While the UK is not known for great summers, we do have our moments and warmer weather does mean we need to be drinking more fluid to ensure better workouts. Indeed, a good fluid intake is imperative even when it isn’t hot as insufficient hydration is potentially the most limiting factor to performance.
Water is the most fundamental of nutrients: if you’re dehydrated, you can’t perform efficiently and this will inhibit your ability to train and therefore results will be compromised. It’s also the simplest factor to control: to ensure adequate hydration, simply drink regularly!
The main function of water in the body is for temperature regulation: we generate heat when we exercise so we sweat to cool us down and the evaporation of fluid from the skin is very effective; but with insufficient fluid we can’t sweat, so we need to replace these skin fluid losses. Under average condition the body loses around six pints of fluid per day through urine, sweat and respiration. Thirst isn’t always a good indicator of making sure we’re taking in enough fluid, so in practice make sure you’re drinking regularly even if you don’t always feel that thirsty.
In hard exercise other factors need to be considered as it’s not always down to how much fluid we ingest; the rate at which fluid leaves the stomach is a major factor on how we re-hydrate. The rate of gastric emptying is also affected by things like the temperature of the fluid (hot drinks do not leave the stomach quickly) and the quantity of electrolytes and carbohydrate in the fluid (isotonic sports drinks are designed for optimal gastric emptying).
Hydration Tips for Optimal Performance
- Have a drink when you wake up
- Have a drink before a meal to help your digestive system
- On average, have a cup of fluid every hour during the day
- Have 250-500ml of water 15-20 mins before a hard workout; this will help hydration and is not too much to sit on your stomach and make you feel bloated
- Sip water during training
- Have a glass of water before bed
- Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine
- Don’t wipe off sweat during exercise and even splash water onto the skin to minimise further sweating