The human body is primarily water and when we exercise, use the bathroom and even breathe we lose that water. The more muscle you have, the more water you need as muscles typically contain 70-75% water, whereas fat cells only contain 10-15% water (Holm. Arizona.edu).
For many of the PG athletes, exercising from May through September means high humidity and sunshine. Not a bad thing, but a recipe for extreme water and electrolyte loss.
As a result, our spring, summer and early fall are a mixture between intense exercise and the consumption of gallons of water. Many athletes may never experience a problem with dehydration or muscle cramping but for others it can halt an entire workout.
The question arises, how much water should I be drinking? I already drink X amount of water/gallon(s) per day, do I need to drink more???
The answer is most likely no, you do not need to drink more water. In fact too much water can be harmful, even fatal.
If you currently drink, approximately, 1 gallon of water per day (throughout the day, not all at once) you are more than likely consuming enough water to stay hydrated. If you are still experiencing symptoms of dehydration it could very well be a loss of minerals / electrolytes due to excessive sweating.
Symptoms of dehydration:
- increased heart rate
- impaired heat regulation
- increased perceived exertion (exercise feels harder than normal)
- reduced skill level or mental function
Electrolytes include a couple different minerals: Calcium, Chloride, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium and Sodium. Each of these minerals carry an electric charge and play an essential role in how our body performs. Everything from nerve function, blood pH, blood pressure, and muscle contraction are affected by these minerals.
A loss of minerals or drop in electrolytes can affect athletic performance, so maintaining a proper balance is key. There are a couple of ways to maintain electrolytes that do not include that sugar filled elixir called, Gatorade.
|Table 1. Deficiency Symptoms, Food Sources and Recommended Intakes of Various Electrolytes|
|Nutrient||Deficiency Symptoms||Food Sources||Recommended Intake*|
Loss of appetite
Tomato juice, sauce, soup
Table salt (1 tsp = 2300 mg sodium)
1300 mg for people over 50
1200 mg for people over 70
|Chloride||Changes in pH
Some fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, lettuce, olives)
2000 mg for people over 50
1800 mg for people over 70
|Potato with skin
|320 mg for women
420 mg for men
|Dairy (yogurt, milk, ricotta)
Collard greens, spinach, kale
1200 mg for people over 50
|*Recommended intake is based on Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride (1997) and Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate (2004). These reports may be accessed via www.nap.edu. Copyright 2004 by the National Academies of Sciences.|
Salty sweaters – if you are not sure what that is let me give you an example, when I finish a race it looks like I’ve stepped out of the Dead Sea with salt deposits dripping down my face, neck and on my shirt. Yeah, I know – it’s lovely ;-)
You will need to focus more on sodium levels than others. Meaning if you have entered an all-day, outdoor competition in Florida. Make sure you are replenishing your sodium stores. This will be something you need to play around with to find an optimum level that works best for your body.
Other than the foods listed above, check out this website for homemade, cheap versions of electrolyte replacement drinks.
Or head out to your nearest sporting goods store and pick up these, a personal favorite!
NUUN Active Hydration Tablets.
For some of you, the Crush Games are coming up. Prepare for this event by establishing electrolyte replenishment that works for your body.
Holm, P. Water and Hydration. Retrieved from http://www.health.arizona.edu/health_topics/nutrition/general/waterhydration.htm