You have been crushing your training, watching your diet, and are feeling lean and ready for the race season to start. But are you addressing the most important aspect of your fitness and health? The body is 60% water and it is crucial for cellular function. Even a 1% loss significantly affects your VO2 max, or how bad assery you are as an endurance athlete.
|Percent of body weight loss in fluids||Symptoms|
|1 %||Few symptoms or signs of any thirst present; however, there is a marked reduction in VO2 max, or aerobic ability.|
|2%||Beginning to feel thirsty; loss of endurance capacity and appetite; heart rate begins to increase; lactate begins build up in the body|
|3%||Dry mouth; performance significantly impaired.|
|4%||Increased effort for exercise, impatience, apathy,discomfort, loss of appetite.|
|5%||Difficulty concentrating, increased pulse and breathing, significant slowing of pace.|
|6-7%||Significant impairment of temperature regulation, higher pulse and breathing, flushed skin, sleepiness, tingling, stumbling, headache.|
|8-9%||Dizziness, labored breathing, mental confusion, further weakness.|
|10%||Muscle spasms, loss of balance, swelling of tongue.|
|11%||Heat Exhaustion, delirium, stroke, difficulty swallowing; death.|
Hydration is important through out your entire day, and nothing will slow you down your recovery and adaptation to training more than dehydration. Think about it, you just went out and crushed a set of 5 minute intervals and then added in a few extra hours at endurance pace because you are a super motivated, gorilla strong endurance athlete. You get home, grab your recovery food/drink and plop down on the couch to watch a rerun of Sanford and Sons. If you didn’t meet your fluid needs during your workout (you didn’t!), and your not addressing hydration immediately when you get back, your body is at a decreased cellular working capacity. You can take in your perfect 4.375 to 1.243 ratio of carb to protein recovery drink but unless you are addressing your fluid needs first your body will never be able to absorb those nutrients at a cellular level. Recovery should always be fluids first, then energy. We can only survive 3 days without water, but 3 weeks without food. What do you think matters more in cellular functions?
So how much fluid do you really need?
The best way to estimate your fluid needs is to drink half your body weight in ounces, plus 8 – 16 ounces for fluid losses overnight, and fluids needed while working out. As a rough estimate I would recommend using 16oz of fluid per hour of working out. That will vary a lot from athlete to athlete and differing weather conditions though. To find out your exact fluid losses weigh your self naked before working out. Track your fluid intake through out your workout, then immediately weigh yourself after. For each pound of weight loss that equals 16oz of fluid loss. Add in what you consumed through out your workout and you will know your sweat rate per hour of working out. Make sure to adjust that for hotter, or more intense exercise.
[Weight before workout] – [Weight after workout] +[Fluid consumed during workout]=
Fluid loss per hour of working out
For a 160lb athlete that is working out 1.5 hours a day that would be roughly 100oz of water a day. Coffee, soda, tea, beer, etc. doesn’t count in your fluid needs. Make sure you are getting in some electrolytes and not cutting back too much on salt so your body can absorb the fluid as well.
Now go get some!