We are always told to make sure to drink during exercise and stay well hydrated throughout the day … But why? Indeed, drinking during exercise allows to replace some of the fluids lost in sweat and to prevent dehydration. This facilitates blood circulation which makes it possible to nourish the muscles with oxygen and energy, while eliminating the waste produced. during exercise, as well as to facilitate the absorption of carbohydrates and electrolytes such as sodium, the main electrolyte lost through sweat during exercise!
Your water needs vary a lot depending on various factors:
- What you ate before training: Did you eat a lot or a little? Was it heavy and harder to digest foods (protein or fat) or easily absorbed foods (carbohydrates)?
- The duration and intensity of the effort: Do you plan to reach the finish line in record time by exceeding your limits or are you going with moderate intensity and for fun?
- The temperature: Is it very hot and humid or cool and dry?
- Your level of perspiration: Is your cap, shorts or sweater white (salt) and is your sweat salty after exercise?
How much to drink and when?
During the day before training
Listen to your thirst and bring a bottle of water with you to drink regularly. Rule of thumb: Aim to drink a total of 500ml (1 bottle of water) within 2 hours of a workout.
Aim for about 3-4 sips (150-300ml) every 15-20 minutes, but mostly listen to your thirst! If you don’t drink a lot during training, make sure you drink enough before and after exercise. Depending on the duration of your training:
- Effort of 30 minutes or less: drinking before and after is sufficient
- Effort of 30 minutes to 1 hour: Drinking water is enough!
- Effort over an hour: Add 30 to 60g of carbohydrate (sugar) per hour via a sports drink (home or commercial) or foods rich in carbohydrates combined with water to maintain your energy level.
Since the stomach digests less quickly during exercise, a sports drink must therefore have a concentration of 6 to 8% of carbohydrates, or 6 to 8 g of carbohydrates per 100 ml of liquid. If it’s hot and humid during your workout, decrease the amount of carbohydrates in your drink and make sure it’s cool! Most commercial sports drinks already contain 6-8% carbohydrate and sodium, so if you’re making a homemade drink don’t forget to add a source of carbohydrates and a pinch of salt if you are. sweat a lot! Here is an example of a sports drink recipe that you can make at home.
Make sure you’re drinking enough for your thirst and needs! One of the best ways to drink for your needs is to rely on the color of your urine! After training we aim for a lemonade yellow color, then we try to go back to a light yellow. If it is a darker color, it is an indicator that you should drink more.
Symptoms of dehydration
How do you know if you are dehydrated? Look out for the following symptoms:
- Leg pain, cramps
- Higher than normal heartbeat
- Decreased ability to exert intense effort
- Increased body temperature
- Feeling thirsty and dry mouth
Now that you are equipped with all of these tips, remember that to find out what is right for you, observe yourself and listen to your body and your tastes! Some prefer water, or water and food, and others prefer sports drinks.
The important thing is to choose what works for you and makes you feel good!