By Erick Avila
Feeling fatigued, unfocused, and plain out of it can be an unpleasant experience. While there are many factors that can contribute to feeling like this, one factor that should not be overlooked is your hydration status. A 1-2% loss of water can impact cognitive abilities and physical performance.
There are several benefits for athletes to be properly hydrated including
- Helping to regulate body temperature by allowing their body to sweat which cools the skin as it evaporates.
- Maintaining blood volume, which helps deliver oxygen to the muscles.
- Reducing the feelings of fatigue, lack of focus and decreased performance associated with being under hydrated.
Lack of hydration occurs when you lose more fluids than your body consumes. Hydration plays an important role in various functions of the body, so it’s important to stay hydrated for optimal health.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that in general men between 19 and 70 years of age consume 3.7L/d of fluids (water, other liquids, and foods) and they recommend that in general women between 18 and 70 years of age consume 2.7L/d of fluids. In the United States, the average fluid intake is currently 1,440 ml/d, meaning most Americans are typically under hydrated based off the IOM’s guidelines.
It’s important to remember that individual fluid needs will vary depending on several factors. In research on athletes of different sports disciplines, it’s been shown that factors like body weight, exercise duration, exercise intensity, weather conditions, and clothing can impact sweat rates and rates of sodium losses.
The time it takes to reach a normal hydration status will vary based on numerous circumstances. The composition of a beverage can also impact the rate at which the fluid enters our body, how long we retain it, how motivated we are to continue drinking, and the replenishment of electrolytes.
In one study, mildly dehydrated subjects were able to reach a normal hydration status within 45 minutes of drinking 20 oz of water or a combination of salt and a carbohydrate electrolyte solution.
The general recommendation for fluid consumption for people that are hypohydrated (or under hydrated) is to consume a fluid volume that’s about 150% of their sweat loss (if you lost about 20 oz of fluid during a workout, this would mean you’d need to drink 30 oz after your workout), with beverages containing relatively higher concentrations of sodium chloride showing more prolonged effects for restoring hydration status than drinks that are low in sodium.
There are a multitude of tools used to track hydration status, some of the most practical ones include:
The Sensation of Thirst: If you feel thirsty, this is a sign that your body needs fluids. While this may sound obvious, many people overlook this signal, especially during exercise or when they’re in cooler climates.
- Urine Color: An eight-point color scale has traditionally been used to assess hydration status. Urine color scales have been used as practical tools for assessing urine concentration and hydration status in many clinical trials. [8,9,10] A simple way of using this scale is understanding that darker colors are associated with a lack of hydration, a pale straw yellow color is associated with being hydrated, and a transparent color is associated with drinking too much fluid.
There are many ways to stay ahead of your hydration including drinking water, eating water-containing foods, and taking in electrolytes. Some key tips to help you stay on track include:
- Make it Taste Good
Some people find water plain or boring and need a little flavor in their drinks to stay motivated to drink enough fluids throughout the day, especially during workouts. Adding some flavor to your water can help motivate you to drink more throughout the day. When looking for options to flavor your water, make sure you’re paying attention to the calorie and sugar content, especially if you have body composition-focused goals, like weight loss.
- Alternate Types of Beverages
Like how making water taste good can help keep you motivated to drink more fluids, alternating the types of beverages you drink can provide much-needed variety. By alternating beverages, you can avoid flavor fatigue. Flavor fatigue occurs when people no longer get the same enjoyment from a food or drink.
- Don't Forget Your Electrolytes
Electrolytes are ions that conduct electricity in water. Some of the key electrolytes are bicarbonate, calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, and sodium. Electrolytes play an important role in regulating fluid volumes in the body. When it comes to hydration, your body needs water, and a balanced ratio of electrolytes to function at its best.
When it comes to good hydration practices, it’s best to take a proactive approach. This includes: 1) begin your workouts in a hydrated state 2) prevent excess fluid losses during your workout 3) post-workout replenishment of any fluid loss prior to your next workout.
Practical hydration guidelines that athletes can follow include
- Drinking 13 20 oz of fluids within 2 hours before starting any exercise
- Drinking 16-67 oz/hr. of fluids during exercise to prevent excess fluid losses. This is best done by taking sips of fluids at 15-minute intervals
- Drinking enough fluids after exercise to make up for approximately 150% of any weight loss. So, if you lost 1kg after a workout (about 2.2 lbs.), this would mean you’d drink about 50 oz of fluid to make up for this fluid loss. [12,13,14]
Hydrating fast can be possible when you’re drinking the right mix. By choosing XTEND, you’re getting a premium blend of electrolytes + BCAAs to help speed up your hydration in order to feel and perform at your best.
XTEND Sport: Featuring 7G BCAAs, a robust blend to support hydration, and proudly wearing the NSF Certified for Sport certification, XTEND Sport is the perfect solution for athletes both on and off the field.
XTEND Original: The category leading BCAA product that has been trusted by consumers for more than 15 years. With its huge selection of mouth-watering flavors, XTEND Original was designed to help you hydrate, repair, and recover.
XTEND Ripped: XTEND Ripped features the clinically studied ingredient Capsimax®, which helps support fat burning. In addition, XTEND Ripped is formulated without stimulants, giving you options for your workout routine.