Hydration – Importance and the Proper Way for an Athlete to Hydrate

Benefits of Hydration, Bene Rullan
A martial artist should be well aware of the the benefits of drinking water, and have the knowledge on how the amount of water affects the body’s ability to function properly. If you are well hydrated, then you will perform better and avoid the dangers when you get dehydrated. Always remember that proper hydration is top priority when it comes to maintaining a body that is to perform well in training and in competition as well.

Proper Way To Hydrate
Properly hydrated means a body that functions properly, fluids in the body have numerous functions and are essential to the physical well being and health of a person. Fluids form blood, aid in digestion, and also prevents the body from overheating through sweat. For a martial artist who trains hard, excessive sweating is a normal occurrence, and needs to be replenished. Sweat regulates the temperature of a person by evaporation. Failing to replenish fluids after excessive sweating, the danger of the body to overheat will lead to low performance and even dangerous consequences. Different levels of sweating differs from person to person and can be influenced by different external factors such as, temperature, clothing, altitude and humidity.

Avoiding Dehydration
Inadequate intake of water is the leading cause of dehydration. Dehydration causes lack of energy, which could further lead to headaches, dizziness and disorientation. It is important to replenish fluids while it is being lost. Replenishing fluids only after a training session is of no use, as it could result in dehydration and loss of performance.

Effects of Dehydration
1-2% – Thirst and weakness
3-4% – Low performance, dry mouth,
5-6% – Increased body temperature, headache, irritability
7-10% – Dizziness, disorientation, heat stroke and even death

The Right Way to Hydrate
Water intake before the training, during the training and after the training should be properly planned.

Before Training – Drink 14-18 ounces of water two hours before the training. The two hour gap is enough to fully hydrate the body and leave enough time for excess water to come out of the system. Plain water is the best source of hydration. Take 5-7 ounces of water just 15 minutes before the exercise to be fully hydrated before the physical activity.

During training – The athlete must constantly keep hydrating the body every 20-25 minutes with 5-10 ounces of water. Sports drinks are also a good idea during exercise as they help also to replenish the sodium lost through perspiration.

After the Training – The athlete should be encouraged to replace all the lost fluid by consuming approximately 20 ounces of fluid for every pound of weight lost.

Electrolyte Considerations for Athletes
Due to excessive perspiration, athletes should consume 1.5 g of sodium and 2.3 g of chloride each day (or 3.8 g of salt) to replace the amount lost through perspiration. The maximum amount should not exceed 5.8 g of salt each day (2.3 g of sodium). Older people and patients who have elevated blood pressure, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease should avoid consuming salt at the upper level. Endurance athletes and other individuals who are involved in strenuous activities should consume more sodium to offset sweat losses. The carbonates in the sports drinks also help the muscles perform better. Athletes should also have an adequate intake of 4.7 g of potassium per day to blunt the effects of salt, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of kidney stones and bone loss. Athletes should also eat foods rich in potassium such as bananas.

Caffeinated Drink & Alcohol
Caffeinated drinks must be avoided because they act as a diuretic and works against hydration. A cup of coffee contains 1.5 micrograms of caffeine. Also keep in mind that drinking alcohol has the effect of heating up the body, and also has the opposite effect on hydration.

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