Staying well-hydrated is crucial for sports. If you become dehydrated it can slow you down, make you feel more tired, and can affect your performance, especially if you are involved in competitive sports.
You need to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after sports. We all need about two litres of water everyday but this goes up if you have been training, especially if you have been sweating. You will also lose moisture as you breathe so you need to add extra water and fluids.
Don’t wait until you feel thirsty!
By the time you feel thirsty, it means that your body has needed a drink for some time and you could already be 1-2% dehydrated.
What are the best drinks to choose?
Water is the best drink to choose throughout the day. Fluids are important when you are training or at the gym but you need to hydrate on days you don’t train as well. Drink water with meals and sip water through out the day. If you find it hard to drink plain water try adding slices of fruit or go for caffeine-free herbal teas. Try not to choose sparkling water, still water is a good choice.
Isotonic drinks contain carbohydrates (usually as sugar) as well as some electrolytes. These drinks can help to rehydrate you faster during and after intense exercise. But be careful! You do not need an isotonic drink if you have just been out for a walk – they are best used for intense exercise. They can be high in sugar so they are best used only when you are exercising – water is your best drink at other times for rehydration.
How do I know when I have had enough fluids?
The best way to know if you are well-hydrated is to look at your pee (yes, really!). If it is dark in colour then you are probably a little dehydrated and need to drink more water. When you are well-hydrated, your pee will be a very light yellow or almost clear.
Can I drink anything other than water?
Low fat or skimmed milk is a good drink. Well-diluted fruit juices and smoothies can also be useful but too much fruit juice can have a lot of sugar so water is still your best choice.
Fluid Before, During and After Exercise
Try to have 300-600mls of fluid about 15 minutes before you exercise
150-200mls for every 15 minutes that you are exercising (this varies from person to person)
When you finish exercise, you need to try to replace all of the fluid you have lost – checking your pee is one way to check. You can also weigh yourself undressed before you exercise and then weigh yourself again after exercise. The difference in weight is usually fluid loss. You need to drink 1 ½ litres of fluid for every kg (or 2 lbs) you have lost.
Make your own sports drinks:
1 litre of water that has been boiled and cooled
1g of salt
500mls fruit juice
500mls water that has been boiled and cooled