Sports Training & Conditioning Zone!

Hydration Tips to Help Your Athletes Beat the Heat

By Michelle Riccardi, MS, RD, CSSD, Director of Nutrition Education, EXOS

At EXOS, hydration is one of the key components of our overall nutrition philosophy, which also includes eating clean, eating often, developing a healthy mindset, and fueling for recovery. When athletes are training at high intensities for long periods of time, especially in the heat, staying hydrated is a major concern. To keep our athletes performing their best, we stick to strict hydration guidelines year-round.

Research shows that losing as little as 2 percent of your body weight from sweating slows sprinting time, affects lateral movement, and decreases strength. For a 180-pound athlete, that's just a 3.6 pound difference. Doesn't seem like much, but it is.

While sports performance is key, so is safety. The more dehydrated an athlete gets, the more severe the side-effects. Starting at just a one percent body water loss, their cardiovascular system is affected. As dehydration worsens, they'll experience reduced muscle endurance, heat exhaustion, cramping, and fatigue, and, worse case, there's potential for heat stroke and coma. Staying hydrated reduces this risk, and it also helps support the metabolism, lubricate joints, and aids in mental focus.

A simple and effective way to track your athlete's hydration status is to weigh them in before and after a training session. The goal is to match sweat losses with good hydration practices. If they're losing more than two percent of their body weight, then you know they need to hydrate better during training. It's also important to note that athletes shouldn't overdrink during a session.

Basic guidelines for daily hydration should be about 1/2 an ounce to one ounce of fluid per pound of body weight. After emphasizing those requirements to our athletes, EXOS uses the following hydration strategy:

  • 1-2 hours before exercise consume 17-20 ounces of fluid.

  • Immediately before training consume 7-10 ounces of water or a sports drink. Choose a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink that's approximately a 5-6 percent carbohydrate solution.

  • During training consume 7–10 ounces of water (equivalent to about 4 to 6 gulps of fluid) every 10-15 minutes. A sports drink can be consumed if training for over an hour, training in extreme hot and humid environments, or an athlete enters the training session under-fueled.

  • After training consume 20 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during training.

  • While water should be the main source of hydration, athletes can also incorporate water-rich (more than 90 percent water) foods into their diet. Cucumbers, celery, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, watermelon, and spinach are all great choices.

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    (August 2014)