Warmer weather is, hopefully, just around the corner. After a cold winter, athletes are not as accustomed to exercising in warmer weather and they will likely find themselves sweating more, increasing the risk of dehydration. Most athletes will finish exercise in a dehydrated state. One of the athlete’s goals post-exercise is to restore these fluid losses before the next exercise sessions or event. While this may seem simple, is not as easy as it may seem.
To return to an adequate state of hydration, more fluids must be consumed than what was lost during the exercise session due to continued sweat and obligatory urine losses. Athletes should aim to consume fluids that are 150% of the post-exercise fluid deficits. This means if your weight decreased pre- and post-exercise by 1 kg, 1.5L of fluids would need to be consumed post-exercise to restore hydration. Urine checks can give false positives in terms of hydration during this acute phase recovery. This means that urine colour could be very clear, which would usually indicate good hydration or over hydration when you’re actually still dehydrated.
What you drink post-exercise is also very important. Sodium helps retain the fluids consumed so less is lost in urine. Sodium is also the primary electrolyte lost in sweat, so this helps replenish sodium sweat losses. Sodium can be consumed in the fluids we consume post-workout (i.e standard sport drinks) or with the foods we consume alongside fluids. Research also shows that carbohydrates and protein help increase water absorption in the gut. A good example of this is milk, which provides fluids, carbohydrates, protein and even more sodium than Gatorade.
The palatability of the fluid consumed is also extremely important. Thirst is not a good indicator of how much to drink post-exercise and leads to “involuntary dehydration.” By providing fluids with ideal quality, flavour and temperature, athletes will consume more fluids. For instance, sweetened drinks tend to be consumed in greater quantities than plain water, while extreme sweetness will reduce fluid intake.
Here’s to the warmer weather ahead. Post-exercise, ensure you rehydrate with ample fluids that taste good, so that you’re ready to perform at your best during the next exercise session.
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