Did you know that the primary component of your entire body is water? It’s true – about 75% of you is water. Given your highly aqueous state, it should come as no surprise that proper hydration is an important factor to any athletic performance.
When you run, your body heats up, and then you sweat. Sweating is your body’s mechanism for maintaining a constant temperature. When you sweat, you are expelling water and electrolytes from your body, both of which need to be replaced. This is where optimal hydration comes into play.
As a general guideline, adults should be drinking at least 64 ounces (that’s almost 2 liters, or 8 measuring cups) of water every day. Of course, athletic activity increases the amount of water needed. The following is a general guideline of fluid intake, and should be adjusted for the type of sport, the duration of the activity, and the climate.
Fluid intake prior to exercise:
· 17-20 ounces (3-4 cups), 2-3 hours before exercise
· 7-10 ounces (about 1 cup), 15-20 minutes before exercise
Fluid intake during exercise:
· 7-10 ounces (about 1 cup) every 10-20 minutes
Fluid intake after exercise:
· 16-24 ounces (3-4 cups) per pound of body weight lost during exercise, within 2 hours
The last point probably needs clarification. When you sweat, you actually lose body weight. For example, if a runner weighs 130 pounds prior to their run, and weighs 128 pounds after their run, then the runner has more than likely lost 2 pounds of fluid. For post-exercise rehydration, this runner should consume at least 32-48 ounces of fluid to replace what was lost.
As you can see, timing your fluid intake is important. Adequate hydration prior to exercise sets the stage for a great workout. Hydration during exercise helps sustain your body through the workout. After a run, proper hydration allows for better recovery.
What types of fluids should you be drinking? That is a very good question. With so many sports drinks on the market, it can be difficult to know exactly what your body needs. Remember that your body is 75% water, so it should come as no surprise that water is an ideal fluid for consumption, especially if you are going to be running for less than an hour.
If you are going to be running for over an hour, you need to be considered about replenishing both electrolytes and carbohydrates. To do this, you can either eat whole foods (more on this in another post) or turn to sports drinks. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when making your fluid selection:
· Drinks that contain more than 8% carbohydrates may contribute to gastrointestinal distress – so juices may not be your best option. Neither would carbonated drinks or sodas for similar reasons.
· Electrolytes like sodium and potassium can be found in some sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. If you don’t like sports drinks, you can use an electrolyte tablet or Elete water, which contains electrolytes
The bottom line is this – remember to drink plenty of fluids. Although you may have to experiment with a few different fluid options to find the right one for you, your body will thank you for it!