5 Hydration Tips for Athletes

Hydration is an essential aspect of an athlete’s sports nutrition plan.

#1 Know the Signs of Dehydration

The first hydration tip is for athletes to be aware of the signs of dehydration. By recognizing the early signs and symptoms of dehydration, athletes can prevent the development of more severe heat illnesses. 

Signs and symptoms of dehydration may include:

  • Thirst
  • Feelings of discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Flushed skin
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Chills or heat sensations
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • GI cramps
  • Decreased performance.

It is important to be aware that even mild dehydration can impact an individual’s ability to regulate internal body temperature. As dehydration becomes more severe, the stress on the body increases and individuals are at greater risk for developing heat illnesses.

#2 Go into Competition Hydrated

It is important for athletes to start a workout or game in an optimally hydrated state. Although hydration needs vary amongst athletes, there are some general pre-event guidelines athletes can follow.  Approximately 4 hours prior to the event, it is recommended that athletes drink 5-7 mL of fluid per kg of body weight.

#3 Hydrate During Activity

During activity, athletes sweat to remove heat from their bodies. When athletes sweat, they lose both fluid and electrolytes. Therefore, the goal during activity is to minimize the amount of dehydration that occurs due to sweat losses

#4 Rehydrate Following Activity

Following a workout or competition it is important for athletes to rehydrate and replace the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat.  Weighing before and after activity can help athletes determine how much fluid was lost in sweat.

#5 Avoid Overhydrating

In addition to dehydration, it is also important for athletes to avoid overhydrating during activity. Excess consumption of fluids can lead to hyponatremia.

Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia include:

  • Swelling of hands, feet, or both
  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Mood changes
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory distress

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