How much water should athletes drink?

waterOne of the most important things to remember when you start a fitness routine is to stay hydrated. However, it’s not always clear as to how much water you should be drinking when exercising. There are many theories, like drinking as much fluid as you lose in sweat or using thirst as an indication of how much and when to drink. However, the answer to the question posed in the title is different. This is because each athlete has individual needs and their water consumption should take this into account.

For one, using thirst as an indication of when to drink water is not always a reliable signal to drink. This is because, by the time you feel thirsty, your body is already slightly dehydrated. The amount of water you should drink depends largely on the intensity and duration of the workout along with other factors, including temperature, humidity, and altitude to age, gender, height and weight.

Why do you need water?

Every chemical reaction in your body needs water as a medium to function. Only when this water is present can your enzymes and hormones develop to their full potential:

♦  If you don’t drink enough water, your brain can shrink critically. This results in your concentration and ability to think becoming severely impaired. So, when you’re studying or working hard on a specific project it becomes extremely important for you to drink enough water so that you can carry on working at your peak.

♦  This means that if you don’t have enough water in your body your central nervous system can’t work effectively. In addition,muscular reaction and coordination decreases significantly, strength and endurance drops and you can even experience cramps.

How much water do athletes need daily?

You can calculate how much water athletes need to drink daily by using the intensity of your training as a guideline. A rest day, during which you do very little activity, is at the lower end of the scale while a moderate-to high-intensity training day is at the higher end of the spectrum.

The calculation:

Low-end: body weight (in pounds) x 0.5 = fluid ounces per day
High-end: body weight (in pounds) x 1.0 = fluid ounces per day

If you weigh 150 pounds, for example, your daily water requirement would be between 75 and 150 fluid ounces. To determine how much water you need in liters, you have to then multiply that by 0.03.

When you need to drink water

Always start your day by drinking an eight-to 12-ounce glass of water in the morning. On training days, you need to drink water before, during and after exercise.

You need to drink 16-to 24 ounces of water two hours before you exercise and another eight ounces 20 to 30 minutes before you exercise. Weigh yourself right before your exercise to determine your baseline weight.

You need to drink eight ounces of water every 15 minutes during your exercise. After your exercise, immediately weigh yourself. After this drink another 16-to 24 ounces of water for every pound of weight you’ve lost gradually over the next half hour.

Integrating drinking more water into your everyday life

Set fixed times when you should drink water, like:

♦  Just after getting up to boost your metabolism,
♦  Before or after meals, and
♦  Every full hour.

A simpler way to drink enough water is to remember the Rule of 8: eight times throughout the day, drink a big glass of water.

Are energy drinks a good substitute for water?

The question as to whether or not energy drinks are good to drink during workouts often comes up. What must be taken into account is that besides water these types of drinks contain a lot of added ingredients that may counteract the effects of your workout. For example, there can be as much as 10g of sugar per 100g in the energy drink. If you’re drinking too many of these, this can quickly lead to you putting on weight despite regular gym sessions.

It is essential to have enough water in your body so that it can function correctly. However, drinking too much water can be just as detrimental as not drinking enough water at the excess water can flush out essential minerals in your body. If you’re ever concerned about your water intake, consult a nutritionist or dietitian who can assist you.

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