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How to Stay Hydrated on the Go: Essential Tips for Athletes

Most individuals will need a minimum of 3 - 32 oz Hydroflasks of total fluids per day just to be a functioning human being. This is not including the addition of exercise!

Hydration “rules of thumb”:

  • Drink 16-24 oz of water ~4 hours before exercise

  • If urine output is still low, drink ~8 oz 2 hours before exercise

  • Drink a sodium and carbohydrate-containing beverage every 10-20 min during a workout

  • For every 1# lost, consume 24 oz of fluid to replenish

“Can’t I just rely on thirst?”

It depends. Usually when exercise is done at low intensity, one is able

to rely on thirst. That said, thirst signals may be missed when any athlete is distracted, fluid is not readily available, or when a hot, humid climate blunts the body’s thirst mechanism. It is different for all people so an individualized hydration plan is advised.

“I am sweating! A lot!”

We lose sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium in sweat, yet sodium and chloride in much larger amounts than the others. One loses anywhere between 450-1850 mg of sodium per liter of sweat lost (most athletes lose 1-2 L of fluid per hour of exercise). Drip Drop provides ~330 mg of sodium to replace the losses. However, Powerade and Gatorade provide ~400 mg of sodium, along with adequate carbohydrates to provide energy … and they’re a lot cheaper!

What are the implications of dehydration?

  • Dry mouth

  • Fatigue

  • Decreased coordination or concentration

  • Weakness

  • Dizziness

  • Lightheadedness

  • Nausea

  • Increased core body temperature

  • Increased heart rate

  • Increased rate of perceived exertion

  • Increased muscle glycogen use

“But I can’t drink too much, right?” Wrong!

  • Ingesting too much water, or other low-sodium fluid can quickly dilute the plasma sodium concentration. When this occurs, water enters the brain, causing swelling that can lead to seizures, coma and even death. 

  • Symptoms may include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Confusion

  • Lack of energy 

  • Muscle weakness

The most practical hydration tip for athletes:

The most practical way for athletes to determine hydration status is by looking at their urine. The darker the color yellow, (usually) the more dehydrated an athlete is.

hydration tips for athletes

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