NUTRITION | DEIDRE BLOOMQUIST | 06/22/21
Focusing on water intake and hydration is often one of the most simple nutritional habits to put in place, but one that is truly vital for all athletes in order to perform their best, recover properly, and promote overall health in the body.
Water is the most common nutrient deficiency with over 75% of us being chronically dehydrated. This happens as a result of low water intake in addition to high levels of diuretic consumption. So how does this effect our athletic performance? First, we need to understand the roles of water in the body.
Early signs of dehydration include:
Signs of chronic dehydration include:
Ensuring you are hydrated not only means avoiding these symptoms of dehydration, but also ensures you’re able to reach peak physical fitness as an athlete on a daily basis.
To determine your optimal water intake, take your body weight in pounds and divide it in half. This is your base level of hydration needs on a daily basis. You’ll also want to take into consideration any diuretic beverages and multiply the ounces of those beverages times 1.5 and add this to your daily intake goal.
Body weight in pounds / 2 + Ounces of Diuretics x 1.5 = Total Daily Water Intake
A diuretic is anything that removes water from the body, and they include many common beverages such as coffee, caffeine-containing teas, and soda are all diuretic. This ultimately means they are not contributing to your water intake for the day since they are actually promoting further dehydration.
In addition to this, beverages such as fruit juices and other sugar-y beverages should not be included in contributing to your water intake for the day.
While the majority of us are dehydrated, it’s also important to know your overall water needs on a daily basis in order to avoid hyponatremia, or water intoxication, where water levels are too high in the cells to due increased fluid retention or increased sodium loss. Our cells have a delicate balance for determining proper hydration, and too much water can ultimately be a bad thing.
In addition to getting enough total water intake throughout the day, it’s important to use a nutrient timing strategy for water intake similar to how you might do this for energy needs around your workout. Using water in a nutrient timing strategy ensures both optimal performance as well as recovery.
In the hour prior to beginning a workout, aim to consume between 8-16 ounces of water. This will pre-load the system to be hydrated, ensuring cell communication to water is primed, as well as provide lubrication to joints for exercise.
During exercise, aim to consume an additional 8 ounces of water if you are working out for one hour, with an additional 6-8 ounces of water being consumed for every additional hour thereafter. Consider how much you are sweating during your workout and remember that we need to replenish those water stores in order to avoid dehydration.
After your workout, aim to get another 8 ounces of water in the hour after completion to replenish any lost stores of water and promote recovery by ensuring cells are able to accept nutrients for muscle recovery and repair. If you’re not a fan of the “taste of water” or need to flavor your water to make it more appealing and easy to consume, use a sugar-free option to do so. Using a clean BCAA product (aka ours!) to flavor your water is also a great way to ensure you’re getting a steady stream of amino acids throughout the day to promote optimal protein levels and support muscle recovery, all while making your water taste good too.
While water may seem like low-hanging fruit when it comes to your health and nutrition, it’s truly one of the most foundational staples of ensuring your success as an athlete in reaching your performance goals. Without water, all of the more complex nutritional strategies become less effective. Know your water intake goals, track your intake daily, and be aware of signs of dehydration to ensure water intake becomes a lasting habit in your athletic routine.
Functional Nutritionist based in Denver, Colorado. Certified L3 CrossFit Trainer who loves working with athletes on performance and health goals.
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