Summer Hydration Tips Courtesy of Nuun

With the unofficial beginning of summer this past Memorial Day weekend, hydration becomes more important than ever as the hottest months of the year in Richmond approach.  The increased temperatures bring an increased chance for dehydration while being active. Check out these tips for proper hydration from Nuun and Jesse Kropelnicki and Jaime Windrow from TheCoreDiet.

Surprisingly, slight dehydration of just 2% of your body weight can have negative impacts on exercise performance. Studies have shown that proper hydration is the best way to enhance or improve performance.

Common situations that cause athletes to risk dehydration:

  • More than 1 training session per day
  • Competitions held in hot and/or humid environments
    • If athlete is coming from a cooler climate, impact is greater
    • Competitions of long duration such as marathons and triathlons (specifically half and full ironman distances)

Dehydration Warning Signs:

  • Dizziness, confusion, lightheaded
  • Dry lips, mouth, and skin
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Decreased pace and performance
  • Darkened urine
    • One of first indicators as kidneys are very sensitive and will display this sign quickly
    • Increased body temperature, heart rate, rate of perceived exertion (or how hard you are working)

Overhydration (Hyponatremia):

As we’ve discussed, drinking water to stay hydrated is an important aspect to exercise performance.  However, drinking too much water can also lead to problems. This metabolic condition, called hyponatremia, occurs when your body fluids do not have enough sodium (salt). Hyponatremia can be caused by overhydrating and/or hydrating with only water. When only water is used for hydration, electrolytes can be flushed from your body, leading to problems. Electrolyte drinks, such as Nuun, are perfect for pre-event or even during the day hydration since they contain sodium without too many carbohydrates found in many sports drinks.

Hyponatremia Warning Signs:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Loss of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma

How much water is right for you?

You should be drinking fluids throughout the day and before, during, and after exercising. Maintaining a good hydration status on a daily basis by staying a step ahead of dehydration is the best approach. Waiting until you are thirsty to drink fluids is too late – you are already dehydrated and you’ll find yourself constantly playing the game of catch-up!

Each day, try to consume half your body weight (in pounds) in liquid ounces PLUS what you sweat out in training (your sweat rate).  For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim to consume 75 ounces of water or electrolyte drink per day plus losses that occur during workouts.

Calculating Your Sweat Rate

Average sweat rate is typically 1 – 1.5L of fluid per hour (32-48oz), and 500 – 1,500mg of sodium per hour, however your personal sweat rate will depend on several factors such the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity); genetics, and the athletic conditioning of the athlete.

Your sweat rate can be determined by a simple “sweat test”:

  1. Take your body weight before a one-hour moderate intensity bike or run.
  2. Record the amount of liquid consumed during workout, and weigh yourself again after the workout.
  3. Calculate the weight change and remember to add in the amount of liquid consumed during the workout.
  4. Every pound lost during your workout is equal to 16 oz of fluid.

Most people’s sweat contains about 500mg of sodium per 16oz.  Very salty sweaters can have up to 1000mg or 1500mg per 16oz of sweat. As a very general rule of thumb, during long walking or running events, you should pee a minimum of every 2.5 hours to ensure you are staying hydrated.

Choosing The Best Drink

The majority of your fluid requirements throughout the day to maintain health and hydration should come from water or electrolyte drink like Nuun. For those individuals training for extended periods of time (~ 1 hour +), water may not be the best rehydration approach. As you’ve learned above, electrolytes are lost in sweat, most importantly sodium and potassium, and these will not be replaced by drinking plain water. Choosing a drink with electrolytes, such as Nuun, will provide your body with these vital electrolytes, and you’ll have more rapid rehydration because of it.

Special thanks to Nuun and Jesse Kropelnicki and Jaime Windrow, RD with TheCoreDiet for these helpful tips.

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