With some parts of the country already warming up to summer-temps, it’s time to take a look at the importance of hydration and the effects that dehydration can have on your health and performance.
As temps continue to rise, especially in the northern states, I’ll admit, I struggled with training over the last few days. My own fault, really – definitely haven’t been drinking enough.
In fact, I experienced most (if not all) of the symptoms of dehydration:
- Reduced concentration.
- Increased perception of heat during training – it all felt harder than normal.
- Feeling extra tired and lethargic – I slept so much over the weekend!
- Eating more than normal due to confusion between thirst and hunger signals.
- Headaches – yup! I’ve had a mild headache for the last couple of days.
- I even managed to get UTI-type symptoms after my long run on Sunday. According to Runner’s World, this can sometimes happen if you’re running dehydrated.
Our bodies are made up of about 60 to 70 per cent water, which means we need a lot of water to function.
Dehydration basically occurs when the fluid balance is off – when our body loses more water than what we take in leading to disruption in electrolyte balance.
And as mentioned above, dehydration can leave you feeling pretty unwell and can have a negative impact on your performance.
How can I tell if I’m dehydrated?
The following are signs that you might be on the path towards dehydration:
- The colour of your pee: if your urine is dark yellow, it’s typically a sign you need to drink more.
- How often you need to pee: you should be passing urine about every three to four hours. More than that and you’re probably drinking too much; less and you’re not drinking enough.
- Thirst: if you’re thirsty your body is telling you to drink! But remember, being thirst often means you’re already partially dehydrated, so make sure you sip on fluids regularly, even when you’re not thirsty.
- Heat: if you’re overheating during training; if you can’t handle the heat, you need to hydrate!
- Feeling tired and have trouble concentrating: if you’ve had enough sleep/rest yet you’re still feeling fatigued, it may be a sign that you need to up your fluid intake.
- Headaches: dehydration can lead to headaches.
- Constipation: your bowels need fluid to keep the stools soft. If you’re struggling and straining to pass a bowel motion, it’s an indicator to increase how much fluid you drink.
- Dry, cracked lips and skin.
How much should I drink?
It’s been said that you should drink about 2L of fluid, daily.
To get it a little more precise, multiply your body weight (kg) by 35 to 45ml to get the amount you need.
So, a 60kg athlete would need about 2.1-2.7L of fluid per day.
Another way of monitoring your individual need is to check the colour of your pee, how frequently you’re urinating and if you’re experiencing any symptoms of dehydration.
During training, especially in the heat, aim to drink about 125-250ml every 20minutes. This includes during swim training too.
Tips for staying hydrated:
Handy ways to stay hydrated across the day include:
- Carry a water bottle with you.
- Have a bottle of water on your desk at work and sip throughout the day.
- If you don’t like the taste of plain water, flavour with lemon, lime, orange slices or mixed berries.
- Drink tea: cups of tea can count as fluid intake.
- Coffee: a standard cup of coffee can contribute to a positive fluid balance. Just don’t drink too much!
- Other fluids such as sports/electrolyte drinks, fruit juice and coconut water can aid hydration.
- Drink before, during and after a workout.
- If you’ve eaten yet you still feel hungry, drink a glass of water. You may, in fact, be thirsty, not hungry.
- Sip on fluids between meals.
To find out your individual fluid needs and to optimise performance, contact me today for an individual assessment.
Austin, S. ‘Eat Like An Athlete’, Published in 2019 by Hardie Grant Books, ©Simone Austin 2019.