why fluid is important
Water is essential for the human body. It is required to maintainblood volume, regulate body temperature and allow musclecontractions to take place. During exercise, the body maintainsits optimal body temperature through sweating. Heat is removedfrom the body when beads of sweat on the skin evaporate, whichresults in a loss of body uid. Sweat production (and thereforeuid loss) increases with a rise in ambient temperature andhumidity, as well as with an increase in exercise intensity. Sowhile sweat loss during exercise is essential for body temperatureregulation, it can lead to dehydration.Drinking uid during exercise is necessary to replace uids lostin sweat. However, in most (elite) cases the rates of sweat lossare higher than the rate of uid intake. This can lead to a uiddecit which ultimately increases the likelihood of dehydration.Therefore, uid guidelines should promote drinking more uidto reduce the decit and potential performance detrimentsassociated with dehydration. However, it is also important toacknowledge that it is possible to over-drink during exercise.This highlights the importance of getting to know your sweatrate and knowing how much you should be drinking. Your sportsdietitian can help to tailor an individual uid plan for you.
dehydration and performance
As dehydration increases, there is a gradual reduction in physicaland mental performance. There is an in heart rate and bodytemperature, and an increased perception of how hard theexercise feels, especially when exercising in the heat. Impairedskill level can also occur, along with mental fatigue. Studies showthat loss of uid equal to 2% of body mass is sufcient to causea detectable decrease in performance (that’s a 1.4 kg loss in a 70kg athlete). Dehydration of greater than 2% loss of body weightincreases the risk of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and othergastro-intestinal problems during and after exercise.Dehydration also reduces the rate of uid absorption from theintestines, making it more difcult to reverse the uid decit.You may end up feeling bloated and sick if you delay uidreplacement. It is impossible to ‘train’ or ‘toughen’ your body tohandle dehydration.
can you drink too much?
Drinking more uid than is comfortable (in any conditions) hasthe potential to interfere with your performance. In cool weatheror when the exercise pace is gentle, the rate of sweat loss maybe quite low. It is unnecessary and potentially dangerous to drinkat rates that are far greater than sweat losses. Over-hydrationduring exercise is called hyponatraemia (dilute levels of sodium inthe bloodstream). Symptoms include headaches, disorientation,coma, and in severe cases, death. It is important to note thoughthat this is relatively rare and dehydration is a much morecommon issue for athletes.
estimating your fluid loss
Knowing your sweat rate can give you an indication of how muchyou should be drinking during exercise. Sports dietitians routinelymeasure an athlete’s sweat rate during training and competitionin a range of environmental conditions, to provide them with theinformation required to design an individual uid plan. A simplestrategy to work out your individual uid loss is as follows:• Weigh yourself in minimal clothing, as close to the start ofexercise as possible. Ideally you should empty your bladderbefore weighing.• Commence exercise session• Weigh yourself at the end of your session, in minimal clothingagain, ensuring you towel off any excess sweat from yourbody, pass urine and void your bowels if necessary.• Your weight change during exercise reects your total uidloss; i.e. the difference between your sweat losses and uidintake. Other minor losses come from breathing, spitting,vomiting and other insignicant sources.• Repeat this procedure under different training conditions toget a good understanding of your individual uid needs, forexample in hot vs. cold temperatures, high intensity vs. lowintensity sessions.• Remember that weight loss during exercise is primarilywater loss (not fat loss), and needs to be replaced soon afternishing exercise.
how much fluid and when !
Drinking uid during exercise helps to prevent a drop inperformance caused by dehydration, and uid after exercisewill re-hydrate you. The amount of uid and the timing of drinksdepend on the individual and the sport.Here are some tips:
fluids in sport