HYDRATION DURING TRAINING AND COMPETITION
We’re told to drink during exercise and stay hydrated throughout the day… Why is that? Drinking during training replaces liquids lost from sweating, which prevents dehydration, promotes blood circulation, which fuels muscles with oxygen and energy, eliminates waste produced during exercise, and helps absorb carbohydrates and electrolytes like sodium, the main electrolyte lost when sweating during training!
YOUR HYDRATION NEEDS VARY GREATLY ACCORDING TO SEVERAL FACTORS:
HOW MUCH TO DRINK AND WHEN
- What you ate before training: Did you eat a large or small portion? Was your meal heavy and harder to digest (protein or fat) or did it include foods that are easily absorbed (carbohydrates)?
- Duration and intensity: Do you plan to cross the finish line in record time to beat your personal best or do you plan to exercise at a moderate intensity to have fun?
- The temperature: Is it hot and humid or cool and dry?
- Your level of sweat: Is your hat, shorts, or shirt white (salt) and your sweat salty after your workout?
The day before you train
Listen to your body and carry a bottle of water with you to drink from regularly. General rule: try to drink a total of 500 ml (one bottle of water) in the two hours leading up to a training session.
Aim to take about 3–4 sips (150 to 300 ml) every 15–20 minutes, but mostly listen to your body! If you don’t drink a lot during training, make sure to drink enough before and after. According to the duration of your training session:
- 30 minutes or less: drinking before is sufficient
- 30 to 60 minutes: drinking water is enough!
- More than 60 minutes: Add 30 g to 60 g of carbohydrates (sugar) via a sports drink (homemade or store-bought) or foods rich in carbohydrates together with water to maintain your energy level. Since your stomach digests much more slowly during exercise, a sports drink should have a concentration of 6% to 8% carbohydrate, i.e., 6 g to 8 g of carbohydrate per 100 ml of liquid. If it is hot and humid during your training session, decrease the quantity of carbohydrates in your drink and make sure it is nice and cold! Most store-bought sports drinks already contain a concentration of 6% to 8% carbohydrate and sodium, so if you make your drink at home, don’t forget to add a carbohydrate source and a pinch of salt if you sweat a lot! Here is an example of a sports drink you can make at home:
Make sure to drink enough according to your level of thirst and needs! One of the best ways to drink according to your needs is to monitor your urine! Yes, your urine! Following a training session, your urine should be the colour of yellow lemonade and then gradually return to light yellow. If the colour is darker, this is an indicator that you need to drink more.
signs of dehydration
What are the signs of dehydration? Pay attention to the following signs:
- Sore legs, cramps
- Higher than normal heart beat
- Decreased ability during intense exercise
- Increased body temperature
- Increased thirst and dry mouth
Now that you are armed with this knowledge, don’t forget to listen to your body and preferences! Some people prefer water, or water and food, and others prefer sports drinks. Choose what is right for you and what makes you feel your best!