Thursday, July 7, 2011

What you need to know about pre-workout hydration

Are you drinking enough of this before your workouts?
If you'd like to make every workout the best one possible, then make sure you're well hydrated before you even start.  I find that people often put fluid intake toward the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to pre-exercise nutrition.  However, that's a big mistake because it is one key element to taking your workout to the next level.  While you may not notice how your hydration status affects your physical performance, your body does.

Why does pre-workout hydration matter?  
Entering a workout even mildly dehydrated (a loss of 2% of body water) can be very taxing on the body and can hinder physical performance, especially in warm or hot environments.  Water serves several vital purposes during activity, including delivering oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, helping to regulate body temperature, and removing metabolic waste products generated during exercise.  Without adequate hydration to start, the body experiences greater physiological strain as the heart has to work harder and the body has a harder time cooling down.  It also saps the body of energy leaving one not only physically but also mentally drained.  How hard do you think you can push yourself when you're feeling like this?  

I hydrate during my workout, so I don't need to worry about pre-workout hydration, right?
Making sure you're well hydrated as much as several hours before a workout allows the body time to better absorb the fluid that was consumed.  When you make sure you're adequately hydrated before exercise you're priming your body for the best workout possible.  Who doesn't want to be able to work out harder, faster, longer, or with greater focus?  And what if some of the symptoms of dehydration, such as a headache or fatigue, before a workout are the very things that are keeping you from actually doing it?  Make sure all of your ducks are in a row!

How do I know if I'm adequately hydrated before my workout?
Thankfully, there are a few simple signs that you can look for to roughly determine whether or not you're well hydrated before your workout.  
  • Thirst is one of the first signs of dehydration, so make sure you're not thirsty before your workouts.  
  • A dry, sticky mouth can also be a sign of dehydration.  If you're experiencing this, drink up.  
  • You can also check the color of your urine.  If it's clear to pale yellow (like lemonade) in color, then you're probably adequately hydrated.
For more info on hydration during your workout, you may want to check out this blog post.

How do you make sure that you're well hydrated for your workouts?

If you're concerned about your physical performance and feel that you'd benefit from a personalized hydration or performance nutrition plan, then you may want to consider consulting a sports dietitian. You can search for one in your area here

Photo credit:  Darwin Bell via Flickr
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