How much do I need to drink during exercise to perform?
To manage hydration during exercise, it is of utmost importance to start your workout well hydrated. Click here for our last newsletter to find out if you are drinking enough every day.
It takes as little as a 2% body water loss to negatively affect your exercise performance. When you become dehydrated your heart rate increases, your body temperature rises and overall you are working much harder than you should be, plus you are at an acute risk of heat illness.
To stay well hydrated during exercise, most people need:
- At least 16-24 ounces of water per hour of exercise, if not more
Drink water, and use a sport drink when you plan on working out longer than 60-90 minutes. Sport drinks are designed to give you the nutrients you need at the concentration your body can absorb. Don’t dilute sport drinks. Find one you really like and use a few different flavors to avoid taste fatigue. Click here for recipes to make your own sport drink.
To gauge whether or not you drank enough during exercise, monitor your urine following the workout and weigh yourself immediately before and after your workout. Any change in your weight is directly related to water fluctuations.
These are signs that you are not hydrating adequately during your workout and your exercise enjoyment and performance have been compromised:
- You don’t urinate within one hour
- Your urine is a dark color
- Your urine volume is small
- You lose more than 2% of your body weight (e.g. a 150-pound person that loses more than 3 pounds during a workout)
Avoid drinking too much
You have consumed more fluid than you need and are at risk of diluting your electrolytes, called hyponatremia, or low blood sodium, if:
- Your urine is clear,
- You urinate often, and/or,
- You gain weight during a workout.
When your sodium level drops, you will feel tired and nauseated and you may have a headache and feel confused. While it is important to be aware of hyponatremia, this should not deter you from staying well hydrated. Rather than skimping on fluids to prevent hyponatremia you simply need to be sure that you are consuming enough fluid and sodium during exercise.