Like a Lamborghini needs premium fuel and a semi-truck requires diesel, an athlete needs the proper nutrition and fluids to run at optimal athletic performance. So what does it take to properly fuel our body’s needs when we are burning calories and absorbing oxygen at astoundingly high rates on the field of play? How can we build muscle, conserve energy and stay at our best for extended periods of time? In order to have the stamina to endure a demanding soccer camp or to obtain a coveted college scholarship athletes need to know exactly what to put into their bodies. In part one of EXACT’s two part guide to fueling optimal athletic performance we will focus on the importance of sound hydration.
How to stay Hydrated: As a general rule, eight glasses of eight ounces (or about four standard sized, 17 oz. bottles) of water is a good point of reference when hydrating. Other factors such as size, sweat rate and amount of exercise are means to increase the intake. That total amount includes water consumed from other foods and beverages as well such as coffee or fruit.
Importance of Hydration: Athletes lose the water that makes up around 60% of their body composition in many ways, particularly on the field of play while they sweat. To many, drinking water and staying hydrated may seem like a given. However, many athletes suffer on the field by neglecting this essential factor of athletic performance, often times by not drinking enough water in the days and hours preceding the game. A good way to gauge hydration levels is by checking urine color. Consistently light yellow or colorless urine demonstrates a hydrated body
Consequences of Dehydration: If an athlete fails to drink the proper amount of water to replace the amount lost in every day customs he/she will suffer from dehydration. A dehydrated athlete may suffer from any or all of the following; fatigue, confusion, headache, feeling dizzy among other symptoms. Energy and clarity of thinking are two tremendously important aspects of maintaining athletic optimization that are sacrificed when an athlete becomes dehydrated.
Best ways to Hydrate: Good old H20 remains the best way for the body to rehydrate, particularly on off days. Sports drinks do have their place however, as they can be used to replace essential minerals and electrolytes spent on the field of play, which in turn can increase stamina and performance. A sports drink with a little sodium, potassium, chloride and other elements is absorbed faster by the intestine than pure water which is very important in the heat of moment on the field of play. When shopping for sports drinks pay attention to nutrition labels for low sodium levels and a moderate dose of protein to aid in the muscle repair that takes place after the natural cellular damage that occurs during exercise.
Hydration tips: Always keeping a water bottle on hand and refilling it at the drinking fountain, ordering water at restaurants, and drinking water before, during and after workouts will all help prevent dehydration.
EXACT has the athlete covered in fueling athletic performance.
CLICK HERE for part two of EXACT’s two part series on fueling optimal athletic performance.