Hydration for Optimal Performance
When it comes to athletic performance, hydration is possibly the most important nutritional element. Water makes up 55-60% of our body, and has many jobs that help keep us functioning at optimal levels. Some of these jobs include:
Dissolving other substances
Transporting substances in the body
Catalyzing chemical reactions
Lubricating and cushioning tissue
Regulating our body temperature
How much water should we intake daily?
This varies depending on many variables, including how hot it is, how much you sweat, and how much salt you’ve ingested. A good rule of thumb is that you should drink 30-40 mL of water for every kilogram of bodyweight. Following this rule, if you weigh 100 kilos, you should ingest 3-4L of water per day (normally 2-3L through liquids and 1L through food). On top of this, you should be drinking an extra 0.5-1L of water per every hour of physical activity.
Try as best as you can to drink water at a steady pace throughout the day. Chugging lots of water all at once can upset your gastrointestinal tract, as well as lower the amount of fluid we can absorb.
Below outlines the consequences of losing a certain percentage of body water:
- 0.5% - Increased strain on heart
- 1% - Reduced aerobic endurance
- 3% - Reduced muscular endurance
- 4% - Reduced muscle strength - Reduced motor skills - Heat cramps-
- 5% - Heat exhaustion - Cramping - Fatigue - Reduced mental capacity
- 6% - Physical exhaustion - Heatstroke - Coma
- 10-20% - Death
Every process in the body requires electrolytes, and we require a correct balance of them. When we sweat we lose more water than electrolytes, but if we sweat a lot we can lose enough electrolytes to cause cramping, fatigue, lower aerobic endurance, and many other things that can negatively affect our performance.
When doing intense physical activity and sweating a lot, electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade have their place. It is most beneficial to dilute these drinks with approximately 60% water and 40% electrolyte drink.