Adequate hydration is essential for our health. During athletic activity, it is not uncommon for athletes to lose 6-10% of their body weight in sweat loss (1). Especially during the Summer, excess fluid can be lost through sweat with the increased heat, so it’s important to be consuming enough fluid to replenish our fluid losses.
Did you know?
A loss of more than 2% of your body weight from fluid can cause compromised cognitive function and aerobic performance.
A loss of 3-5% can impact high-intensity and sport-specific technical skills.
Although hydration needs are highly individualized, general recommendations from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends:
Women - 11.5 cups / 92 oz. per day
Men - 15.5 cups / 124 oz per day
You can stay hydrated with beverages, but you can also stay hydrated by consuming foods with a high-water content. Cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, lettuce and fat-free milk all contain 90-99% water; yogurt, grapes, oranges, carrots and pears contain 80-89% water; cottage cheese, bananas and avocados contain 70-79% water according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
Over-hydrating without replenishing electrolytes (sodium and potassium, specifically) can also be harmful to the body so it’s important to consider what we are eating and drinking during intense exercise. If you're a heavy sweater, you may require a sports drink during practice or games to replenish lost electrolytes and prevent symptoms of dehydration or low sodium in the blood, otherwise known as hyponatremia. Another option is to include sodium and potassium-rich foods in the diet to help with electrolyte losses such as pretzels, dried fruit, beef jerky or bananas.
Hydration and electrolyte balance is essential for athletes to be able to safely and effectively perform in their sport, so make sure you have some options available to ensure proper hydration while in action.
(1) Murray B. (2007). Hydration and physical performance. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 26(5 Suppl), 542S–548S. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2007.10719656