How much fluid should you drink while working out or on game day? Fluid maintenance for the active athlete has been a hot topic of multiple recent research studies and it boils down to two problems (1) not drinking enough water before activity and (2) drinking too much water while exercising. So how do you monitor what an appropriate amount of water to drink is?
In 2017 the National Athletic Training Association produced a position statement that gave some recommendations that are being encouraged to use:
- Everyone’s fluid needs are individualized: there is no gold standard amount of water for everybody to drink while exercising. Everyone has a unique body and different needs in order to perform optimally.
- If tracking individual fluid needs, calculate the difference in body mass between workouts, practices, or days with multiples of each. The objective measure of body mass is the best way for health care providers to understand where an athlete stands with their personal hydration.
- DRINK TO THIRST: This is the biggest piece of evidence that has recently been produced. While there are symptoms of dehydration such as headache, dizziness, cramps, etc. there are also conditions associated with having an excessive intake of fluid during exercise such as exercise-associated hyponatremia. In basic terms, excessively drinking fluids during exercise creates a hypotonic solution of high water & low electrolyte content within your body that could potentially be lethal. Water & sports drinks don’t have the appropriate level of electrolytes to refuel your body at the rate you need so in order to accomplish the correct electrolyte replacement, you would have to drink much more fluid than appropriate and be in a state of drastic hyperhydration.
Bottom Line: While exercising only drink when you are thirsty so your body can regain the extra fluid & electrolytes that were used while exercising during your recovery periods. Gauge yourself by weighing in before and after exercise, gaining weight after exercise is a sign of overhydration. Lastly, making sure you have the correct hydration levels before a workout will have a positive impact on your performance. Get the most out of your time exercising by properly hydrating!