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Clear thinking, keep drinking!

Are you losing concentration, experiencing cramps or increased periods of fatigue during training or competitions? Although numerous factors could impact these symptoms, have you considered it could be dehydration?



Dehydration is classified as a ≥2% loss of body mass associated with the symptoms above alongside an overall reduction in performance capacity, therefore if you have not already considered your hydration strategy, it’s time to get drinking for clear thinking!


What influences your hydration status?


Various factors can influence your hydration status including environmental temperature and humidity, clothing, body composition, the intensity of the session, availability of fluids and individual sweat rate. As some factors are out of your control, focus on those that can minimise the impact of dehydration.


How to assess hydration status?


First, how do you assess your hydration status? There are scientific methods requiring equipment to measure an individual’s hydration status, however, for athletes themselves, use WUT which considers weight, urine and thirst! As dehydration is indicated if two or more of the markers below are present.


Weight – a stable day-to-day body weight (within 1%) is not maintained (i.e. loss of body weight of more than 1% pre-post session/ exercise)

Urine – darkened urine or a reduction in daily urination frequency

Thirst – craving fluids or dry mouth


To estimate an athlete’s hydration status consider weighing pre and post-exercise and measuring any changes in body weight e.g. Pre exercise - Post exercise/ Pre exercise x100= percentage weight loss.


If an athlete is experiencing 2 or more of these symptoms it is likely they are dehydrated and additional fluid may be required.


How to calculate your sweat rate:

To provide an estimation of an athlete's sweat rate check out the link http://www.triharder.com/thm_swrate.aspx or follow the below example.


Example:

Pre-training weight = 75kg

Post-training weight (before showering & dry off any excess sweat) = 73kg

Change in body weight = 2kg

Fluid intake during training = 1 litre

Training duration = 2 hours

Calculations:

• Fluid loss (L) = pre-weight (75kg) – post-weight (73kg) = 2kg

• Total sweat loss (L) = change in weight (2kg) + fluid intake (1L) = 3kg

• Sweat rate (L/hr) = total sweat loss (3kg) ÷ training duration (2hrs) = 1.5 L/hr


From this example, the athlete ideally would need to increase overall fluid consumed during the session from 1 to 1.5L if that was a possibility to minimise the impact of dehydration on performance.


More than just water

As well as water other food and fluids can be consumed to support athletes to meet overall fluid requirements. Examples include; melon, oral hydration solution, sports drinks, milk, milk alternatives, smoothies, orange juice, soup, ice lollies yoghurts.


Tea and coffee contribute to total daily fluid intake, however, be aware that choosing caffeinated versions can cause increased urination. Although an acute dose of <250–300 mg caffeine is unlikely to have a measurable effect on urine output, such an effect is likely to be seen when the dose exceeds ∼300 mg.


Top tips to minimise dehydration:

Fluid loss during sport is enviable and highly variable, however, implementing a hydration strategy or considering your fluid intake will support an athlete to minimise the negative impacts of dehydration and support overall performance.


Check out these top tips to support your hydration:


- Start your session as hydrated as possible

- Check urine colour

- Always bring enough fluids for training sessions/ competitions

- Test out your hydration strategy in training before implementing it in practice.

- Don’t forget about some foods count towards fluid intake


If you are interested in considering your hydration strategy feel free to get in touch theperformanceplate@gmail.com


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