Hydration is as simple and as intricate of a subject as one can make it. There is a lot of science behind the concepts of hydration and dehydration, which is not restricted to the act of drinking water. Dehydration, which is the loss of body water, is detrimental to both physical and mental wellbeing; hence, inevitably negatively affects sports performance.
Approximately 60% of the body’s weight is water and during challenging athletic activities, it is common for an athlete to lose about 6-10% of their body weight in sweat loss; thus, leading to dehydration. However, an interesting fact that studies point out is that reduction in physical and mental performance have been observed with levels of dehydration as little as 2%. At mild levels of dehydration, the physical effects can manifest in reduced endurance, increased fatigue, altered thermoregulatory capability, reduced motivation, and increased perceived effort, all of which can be reversed by rehydrating. Its implications on mental performance results in slower reaction times and cognition abilities reduced to a third, clearly pointing out the importance of hydration during athletic activities.
Hydration requirements for an athlete change based on their physical activity and external environment like temperature & humidity, body type, and diet. Thus, for an athlete, strategizing their fluid intake pre, during and post-training becomes all the more essential in order to mitigate the harsh effects of dehydration.
Terms to familiarize yourself with, in order to understand dehydration.
Hypohydration: A condition occurring when the body’s fluid intake does not match the water and electrolytes lost through sweat. Dehydration refers to the actual process of losing water while hypohydration is the end result of uncompensated loss of body water. Hypohydration coupled with heat stress impairs aerobic performance in athletes.
Hypovolemia: A state where the blood volume decreases, which is one of the implications of dehydration. This affects the efficiency of oxygen transport to different organs of the body. In order to compensate for the lesser oxygen reaching the muscles, the heart pumps faster, thus raising the heart rate. Studies show that hypohydration leads to an increased heart rate even while performing a basic warm-up physical activity or a minimal jog.
Indicators of Dehydration
Urine Colour: Clear or light yellow urine may indicate that you are adequately hydrated. However, a darker shade of urine reflects poor hydration. A clear transparent urine shade means you are overly hydrated which can throw off the electrolyte balance as well. A light yellow shade in the urine is considered healthy in terms of hydration.
Thirst: Thirst although an indicator of dehydration is not accurate. An athlete who waits to drink until they feel thirsty is already dehydrated. Hence, sipping fluids consistently regardless of whether you are thirsty or not, may help you sustain for a longer time.
- Do not chug water all at once. Sip on fluids consistently whether you are training or just throughout the day, ideally every 15-20 minutes.
- Keep tabs on what you eat. Some foods with excess caffeine, sugars, and processed foods may leave you dehydrated. You may also find yourself drinking more water if you consume a high protein diet as the body requires more fluids to metabolize it.
- Sodium isn’t your enemy. Water and sodium along with other minerals like chlorine, potassium, and magnesium are all lost through sweat and play an extremely important role in maintaining the water-electrolyte balance. Hence, hydration should not be limited to drinking plain water, but should involve a fluid that replenishes all the lost nutrients and restore the body’s water balance.
Whether you are a weekend sports enthusiast or a professional athlete, hydration is one of the keys to performing at your optimal level.
Hence, identifying an adequate sports drink for your hydration needs is crucial. Remember, water is not enough. You can read more about our Unived products Elite Drink Mix and Elite Hydration Mix which are formulated to aid in hydration.
Elite Drink Mix is meant to fuel your activity while replenishing the nutrients lost through sweat. You can reconstitute a sachet in 600-800ml of water and consume it as a pre-workout or sip it during your training.
Elite Hydration Mix is a versatile hydration solution. If you are simply looking to restore your lost electrolytes, this is it! You can integrate it into your training sessions or simply sip on it throughout the day whenever you feel dehydrated. Mix 1 serving in 500ml of water and hydrate according to your needs.
Sawka, M. N., Cheuvront, S. N., & Kenefick, R. W. (2015). Hypohydration and Human Performance: Impact of Environment and Physiological Mechanisms. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 45 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S51–S60. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0395-7
Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition reviews, 68(8), 439–458. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
Fluids and Hydration, https://www.usada.org/athletes/substances/nutrition/fluids-and-hydration/