Hydration: The underrated Performance Enhancer
Hydration: The underappreciated performance enhancer
The summer heat is on and with it comes increased sweat with exercise. Sweating is necessary for the body to cool it’s core temperature, and without effective sweating we would essentially cook our cells.
People sweat in different ways. For some, the sweat pours off of their bodies and leaves a puddle behind. Others find that the sweat evaporates from their skin, which is much more effective at dissipating heat and, therefore, cooling the body. Generally, women sweat more efficiently than men, but knowing where you land in the sweat spectrum is key to effective hydration.
A simple sweat test will reveal your sweat rate. To do this, weigh yourself, naked, before exercise and then again after. Be sure to wipe all sweat off your body prior to the post workout weigh-in. For every pound (16 oz) lost, plan to consume 3 cups (24 oz) of fluid.
The average fitness aficionado exercising 45-60 minutes a day won’t need to worry much about their exact sweat rate. Drinking fluids during exercise will, generally, provide adequate fluids to replenish losses; however, if you notice extreme fatigue, headaches, or difficulty concentrating during or after exercise, it might be beneficial to determine your exact sweat rate.
When considering how to replace that fluid lost through sweat, it’s important to note that sports drinks vary in content, taste, and cost. Choosing the best product to maintain energy and fluid balance during and after a sweaty workout can seem confusing, but focusing on a few essential factors can simplify the process. The key electrolytes lost through perspiration are sodium, chloride and potassium. Because sodium is lost at a higher rate than the other electrolytes, you will want a sports drink with 100-200 mg of sodium per 8 ounce serving.
Heavy sweaters may require higher amounts of sodium in their hydration beverage of choice, though. Additionally, a sports drink should contain approximately 50 calories (15 grams) per 8 ounces for optimal energy and absorption. Other more personally relevant considerations are taste, general appeal, texture, and cost. Be sure to do any experimenting with different products during training and to bring your favorite pretested sports drinks to races or events. No one wants to find out they don’t react well to a hydration product on race day!
If you feel overwhelmed putting together a hydration plan, just ask a registered dietitian nutritionist or personal trainer for advice.