Sunday, February 5, 2012

Are you Thirsty? I Am !

As an athlete and nutrition major I am well informed about the importance of proper hydration in both, athletics and everyday life.  However, it was not until I was training for my second marathon that concept of proper hydration and programmed drinking to replace fluid loss really hit home with me. Nutritionally, I strive to eat mindfully and intuitively the problem with hydrating in athletics is that, an athletes’ thirst mechanism often fails as a proper signal for fluid loss because the intensity of exercise and the mind can mask the effect of thirst, allowing an athlete to loose a dangerous amount of water.
What is a dangerous amount of sweat loss?
Dehydration is defined as losing 2% of your body weight from sweating and even losing 1% (1.5 lbs) can significantly impair your physical performance, by raising your body temperature, causing your heart to beat 3 to 5 times more per minute. Dehydration takes away from an athletes mental edge, physical ability, and can be deadly if your body loses its ability to cool itself down and heat illness occurs. When I began marathon training I would always bring water with me on long runs but I would drink mainly before and after running, I had no clue how much I needed to drink, and usually blamed the headaches I would get afterwards on my homework and waking up early.

How can sweat loss be monitored?
The headaches persisted to get worse in the summer and in the warm weather training. In the absence of homework and a lack of sleep I came to the realization that dehydration was the primary cause of my discomfort. Eager enhance my mood and performance I learned a great way to monitor hydration Is through the color and quantity of your urine. I have attached Urine Color Chart to help you identify what a well hydrated urine color should compare to. However, in marathon training and endurance sports it is important to pay special attention to your sweat loss which is individual and influenced by many factors such as age, temperature, genetics, gender, and fitness level. In order to know how much sweat you loose during exercise you must determine your sweat rate by weighing yourself nude before an hour of exercise and then again right after. By knowing the amount of sweat you loose you can determine the amount you need replace which should be 80-100% of what is lost.  Approximately 16 oz or .5kg of water should be consumed for ever pound lost. For example, I found that I loose 3lbs of water weight while exercising for one hour this means I need to drink 38.4-48 oz of water.

Overall, maintaining the proper amount fluid balance essential to life, and specifically during exercise when your muscles generates 20 times more heat than at rest .There is no one size fits all recommendation for fluids so it is important to learn and pay attention to your own sweat rate and replace lost water accordingly.

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