We’ve all heard how important it is to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise, but have you ever stopped to think about how large of a role hydration plays in ensuring that an athlete is able to perform at their peak level? We’ve gathered some helpful info from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Below are some of the highlights:  

In order to stay properly hydrated, how much water should you drink and when? To answer the first part of this question, it is important to take into consideration each person’s body size, metabolism, activity level, what kinds of foods they consume and external factors, such as weather. Athletes must also learn how much water they require to function daily, as well as how much additional water they must drink during physical activity.  

Before  

It is recommend that athletes consume between 16-24 fl.oz. within two hours of exercise and an additional 7-10 fl.oz. 10- 20 minutes prior to exercise. If athletes are exercising in extreme hot, cold or humid conditions, or at high altitudes, it is helpful for them to record their weight. This will help establish how much water is being lost during their workout.

During

Athletes should aim to drink 6-12 fl.oz. every 10-20 minutes during their training session.

After

Once an athlete completes their training for the day, they should record their weight again. Then make sure to consume 16-24 fl.oz. for each pound lost over the next 2 to 6 hours.

What happens if an athlete fails to stay properly hydrated during periods of activity? Dehydration, which is defined as decrease of 2 % in body weight, can have a negative impact on an athlete’s performance. If an athlete feels thirsty, has dark urine or notices a significant drop in body weight from the day before, they may be experiencing dehydration. Additional signs to look for include headache, weakness, dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea, irritability and decreased performance.

When conditions are hot and humid or if an athlete is performing an especially long or taxing workout, sometimes just drinking water isn’t enough.  Water does not contain electrolytes, which are minerals found in blood and other body fluids that can impact performance. In these cases, it is recommended that athletes also incorporate sport drinks into their hydration rotation.

Sometimes what you don’t drink is just as important as what you do drink! Refrain from drinking beverages with more than 8% carbohydrate concentration, such as fruit juice, soda, or beverages containing honey or carbohydrate gel. These products can slow the rate in which the body absorbs fluids and will put athletes at an increased risk for dehydration.

Want to learn more about the importance of hydration in athletes? Click here to read the full article.