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12-04 Hydration and Fluid Facts

Fluid Facts

Just one extra base hit can mean the difference between an exhilarating win or a devastating loss. At any level of competition, an athlete performs his or her best through a winning combination of mental focus, practice, strength and conditioning and most often overlooked SPORTS NUTRITION!

When it comes to gaining the competitive edge, Sports Nutrition and its impact on an athlete's performance is a well kept secret. Coaches are just becoming aware of the fact that proper hydration is one of the easiest, inexpensive and most important tools an athlete can use to enhance performance?

Hydration (how much fluid you drink before, during and after a game) was the very first topic I discussed with the Cincinnati Reds at Spring Training.

Why Is Fluid Intake So Important?
Athletic performance can decline as much as 10% with as little as 1% body fluid lost. i.e., A 200 lb. athlete only has to lose 2 lbs. of body fluid for a 10% performance decline to occur.

Every 2.2 lbs. of water lost during exercise results in the following
1. Heart rate increases eight beats per minute - With an elevated heart rate the body has to exert more energy to do the same job.
2. Cardiac oxygen output declines by 1 liter a minute - This means less oxygen is going to the person's muscles which can lead to a decrease in athletic performance.
3. Core temperature increases .3 degrees Celsius - When the body experiences this rise in temperature it has to work harder to cool down. In an effort to cool down, the body pulls fluids away from the working muscles and redistributes the fluids to vital organs. Since muscular movement is dependent on the presence of water, low concentrations of water in the muscles can cause muscle weakness and loss of the critical control needed by an athlete for peak performance.

In the body, water works as a shock absorber. If water is deficient, even for a brief period of time, there's less fluid present to protect the joints. This can make an athlete more susceptible to injury.

When Should You Drink Water Vs. A Sports Beverage?
Prevailing wisdom indicates water is just fine when a practice or a game lasts less than 60 minutes. If practice or a game lasts 60 to 90 minutes or longer, a 6-8% carbohydrate solution sports drink is recommended. A preliminary study involving baseball players shows energy levels remain within optimal levels if these carbohydrate beverages are consumed throughout the activity. Examples of these carbohydrate drinks are All-sport, Gatorade, Powerade and LowOz. Whether you're drinking water or a sports drink, follow the drinking regimen listed below.

Guidelines For Determining Your Optimal Fluid Needs
* 2-3 hours before a workout or competition drink 2 cups of fluids.
* Then 1 hour before a workout or competition drink 1 cup of fluid.
* 15 minutes before the workout or competition drink ¸ cup of fluid.
* Immediately before the workout or competition weigh and record your weight.
* Every 10-20 minutes during the workout or competition drink ¸ cup of fluid.
* Then right after a workout or competition weigh yourself. Then, drink 3 cups of fluid for every pound of weight you've lost.
* Experiment with this formula and then adjust accordingly for each athletic activity you engage in until you find that your weight remains the same from the start of the activity through to the very end. To achieve peak performance, your goal is to consistently replace any fluids you're likely to lose.

What Age Group Or Type Of Athlete Benefits Most From Proper Hydration?
No matter what your age, sport or level of competition, proper hydration will maximize your performance potential. When it comes to the competitive edge, fluids are a critical part of the sports nutrition "mix". Other areas to pay close attention to include: pre-game and post-game meal planning, daily training menus, use of supplements and the athlete's optimal proportion of lean muscle mass to percent body fat.

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