Hydration is important for everyone. But for high-performance athletes, tracking hydration is critical to performing at their peak and remaining competitive. When sweating, athletes lose crucial water and electrolytes, so they need to hydrate considerably more than the average person.
While there’s a lot of speculation as to how much athletes should hydrate and when, there are a few general rules of thumb for all athletes to keep in mind when exercising.
One size does not fit all
As an athlete, how much should you hydrate? How often? These questions are difficult to answer in a general standpoint. Everyone’s body is different. So like for many recommendations, it varies on gender, age, overall health and other factors. The key is to experiment during activity and exercise to discover the right balance. Once you find this balance, stick to it during both training and big events.
Check your hydration status
Knowing how hydrated you are is key. Although it’s not always easy to tell on-demand, it can help athletes plan their hydration to enhance performance and recovery. A simple solution is keeping an eye on the color of your urine. Pale yellow means you’re adequately hydrated. Dark yellow to brown means moderate to severe dehydration. Products and wearables like SweatID help athletes monitor their hydration levels during activities to help them perform at their peak all while avoiding cramping and other dehydration-related issues.
Do not overhydrate
Is there such a thing as overhydration? Yes! It can lead to cramping, lightheadedness and other problems. It can also dilute sodium, potassium and other electrolytes needed to perform. In rare but serious cases, it can lead to death. For competitive athletes, drinking more or less than usual can throw them off their game. That is why it is critical to establish your balance early on.
Drink water before, during and after exercise
Don’t just drink water or consume electrolytes when you feel thirsty. Be sure to consume water before exercise as well as after—even if you don’t feel thirsty or feel like you’ve exerted yourself to the point where you need to replenish. For example, skiing causes your body to sweat and lose fluids, even if you’re not realizing it in the cold temperatures. It’s critical to replenish your water intake and electrolytes.
As athletes, proper hydration could make or break their performance.