Surely the sweatier we are, the harder we are working right? Well this is mostly true unless you are laying on a sunbed topping up your tan, but our need for water far exceeds that of any other nutrient in our body and keeping our fluid supplies replenished has to be top of your ‘to do' list every day.
As we exercise our body starts to pump blood faster through our muscles which causes our body to increase in heat. As a cooling mechanism we ‘sweat’ to enable us to regulate our body temperature. Pretty simple really, but for all of those fluids that are lost through perspiration, the need to replace them is greatly increased.
Sweating causes us to mostly lose water but we also lose small amounts of electrolytes (the electronically charged minerals comprised of sodium, potassium and chloride. Experienced athletes retain more electrolytes than exercise beginners, this will however improve as exercise and fitness levels increase.
Here are some recommendations on how to stay hydrated before, during and post your sweat fest:
|When to drink||Amount of fluid|
|2 hours before activity||500 to 700 ml|
|15 min before activity||250 to 500 ml|
|Every 15 min during exercise||125 to 500 ml|
|After activity||100 ml for each 100g of body weight lost|
There is an easy way to assess how hydrated you are and something we learn while studying nutrition is that we become obsessed by what goes on in the bathroom! No-one really wants to talk about it, but what happens in your toilet is often the best way to assess a multitude of things related to your state of health. In the case of hydration, it’s important to pay attention to the colour of your urine. Essentially the lighter your urine is the better (a pale straw colour) and if you notice that your urine is darker in colour then you need to increase your water intake.
For many of us keeping your hydration at its optimum can take a conscious effort and you really need to aim for at least 2-3 litres of water per day. Sound like a lot? Well it is and if you exercising you need to drink even more than that (as per the guidelines above!). My best advice to help you achieve this is to keep a one or two litre bottle with you at work or home so that you can monitor your intake and let the hydration begin.
Whitney, E, Rolfes, SR, Crowe, T, Cameron-Smith, D & Walsh, A 2014, Understanding Nutrition: Australia and New Zealand Edition, 2nd edn, Cengage Learning Australia, South Melbourne.