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The Fit 5: Hydration for Athletes

Our fitness expert answers your questions about the importance of proper hydration for athletes.

For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Twitter and Facebook Page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen. This week, Dan Trink, C.S.C.S, Director of Personal Training Operations at Peak Performance NYC and founder of TrinkFitness, answers your questions about proper hydration for athletes.

1) Dehydration Detection— asked by Robert Cosgrove:

What's the easiest way to detect dehydration and how will it effect my weight training?

“Your greatest natural detection system for dehydration is thirst. But, unfortunately, by the time this warning sign kicks in you are likely already dehydrated. As little as a two percent loss of hydration will effect performance in the weight room, so you want to make sure that you hydrate before and during your session. A foolproof way to see if you are doing an adequate job is to weigh yourself before and after your session. The pounds you lose during training are almost entirely composed of water, so ending the session lighter than you started is a good sign you didn't take in enough fluids.”

2) Recommended Water Consumption — asked by Jon Herman:

What's the recommended amount of water to consume for training athletes? Is there a difference for endurance athletes vs. weightlifters?

"Recommendations of water consumption for both endurance and strength athletes really depend upon individual metabolism, sweat rate, climate and level of exertion. However a good blanket recommendation for both weight training and endurance athletes (assuming they are fully hydrated before training or the competitive event) is to drink 7 to 10 oz. of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes. If you are someone who perspires more than average or if you are competing in extreme climates or altitudes those amounts should increase."

3) Increased Consumption — asked by Steve Knox:

Are there instances when you should be consuming more water? For example with specific supplements or training regiments?

"Obviously, the longer you're training, the more water you should consume to keep up with demand. Also competing in extreme temperatures or altitudes drives up your body's need for extra hydration. Since creatine works by drawing more water into muscle cells, you would do well to add extra water while supplementing with it, especially if you are going through a loading phase. Also certain powdered sports drinks are designed with a mechanism that drives fluid into your cells so they would be best consumed with extra water to function properly. "

4) Tracking Intake — asked by Kalen Howell:

Do you have any tricks to keep track of how much water you're consuming in a day?

"There are water containers that actually have counters on them which you 'click' every time you refill. This is a good way of keeping track of how much water you consume. You can also set an alarm to go off every 90 minutes as a reminder to grab another bottle or glass of water. Also, keep an eye on the color of your urine. If you have 2 nearly-clear urinations a day, chances are you are properly hydrated. It's a low-tech method that works."

5) Body Composition and Water — asked by Ryan Marsh:

How exactly does hydration effect muscle growth, recovery and weight loss?

“Hydration effects all three of these factors in a big way. Keep in mind that 75 percent of muscle tissue is water. So it is not hard to see how critical proper hydration is to muscle growth. Also, as mentioned above, a small amount of dehydration affects performance. And if you are not performing up to your maximum potential, you certainly aren't growing to your maximum potential. Water is used for countless metabolic processes, many of which effect recovery. From muscle repair, to protein synthesis to nutrient absorption (digestion) water and hydration levels play a huge role. To put it simply, you cannot recovery properly without adequate hydration. Lastly, staying hydrated is a key component to a smart weight loss plan as it flushes toxins out of your system, keeps your digestive tract healthy and can even help you feel more full, cutting down the risk of binge eating or consuming excess calories. So many people are looking for a pill or 'magic bullet' when it comes to fat loss, but it's actually hard to beat good old H20 as a weight management 'supplement'."

 

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