Tips to Stay Hydrated for Endurance Athletes
Updated: Jun 9, 2021
Summer is here in full swing, and with it--the heat!
Did you know that the human body is made up of 60% water? Water is important for many bodily functions, and optimal hydration provides many exercise benefits. Being adequately hydrated prior to and during your workout will improve your performance by promoting optimal cardiovascular function, regulating your internal temperature, and decreasing your perceived level of effort and fatigue.
As you exercise, your body sweats to release heat building up from your working muscles. As temperatures rise, our body must release more sweat to keep our body and muscles from over-heating. While plain water may do the trick for the average population to stay hydrated, for those exercising in the heat additional electrolytes may be necessary. Sweat is comprised in varying amounts of Sodium, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium, with the largest amount lost as Sodium.
The Adequate Intake (AI) recommendation for the average adult to stay hydrated is ~12 cups for women and ~16 cups for men of fluid each day. This is a good starting point, but you shouldn't end here. For those undergoing prolonged exercise sessions in the heat, day long events (hiking, marathons, ultras, etc.) additional water and electrolytes in the form of fluids and/or food must be considered.
Here are some general recommendations to help you stay hydrated this summer and during your training;
Purchase a fun, re-usable water bottle.
Drink fluids during meals.
Don't discount coffee or tea. While these have gotten a bad rap as being a source that dehydrates you, this is actually false. Some studies have shown caffeine to have diuretic effects, but these effects are short lived and may still contribute to your overall fluid intake. Choose these options either before your workout or a few hours after your workout.
Eat more fruits and vegetables--whole fruits and vegetables have varying water contents and can contribute to overall fluid needs.
Set regular drinking goals for yourself. For example; set a goal to drink 4 cups of fluid before lunch, 4 cups before dinner, and 4 cups before bed.
Mix up your water with herbs and/or fruits for natural flavor.
Take a water bottle with you during long training days (>1 hour) and drink/practice your hydration strategy for race day.
Now, how do you make sure you are getting enough fluid and electrolytes for your training?
When do you need more than just water to rehydrate?
What are some products as a Dietitian do I recommend?
Download my FREE Hydration Guide for Athletes below!
Additional questions or need help with your race day strategy? Comments on the handout? Email me! I would love to hear from you!
Thanks for being here!
Maddi Osburn RDN LD
Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.006
Sports Nutrition Handbook for Professionals