Fitness Tip: How to Hydrate and Replace Electrolytes When You Exercise

Water is essential for life. A few days without it could result in death, it’s that important. Therefore, considering a hydration strategy, especially when exercising in the heat, is essential for overall health. We lose water through breathing, sweating, and urinary and fecal excretion. Exercise accelerates the rate of water loss, making vigorous exercise, especially in the heat, have the potential to lead to cramps, dizziness, and heat exhaustion or heat stroke if adequate fluid intake is not achieved. Correct fluid intake is an important priority for athletes and non-athletes in the heat. Water makes up 60% of our body. Therefore, it is incredibly important for so many different roles in the body.

The role of hydration in the body:
Water has many important jobs. From a solvent to a mineral source, water plays its part in many different functions. Here are some of the important works of water:

– Water acts as a solvent or a liquid that can dissolve other solids, liquids and gases. You can carry and transport these things in various ways. Two of the most important functions of water are the fact that water transports nutrients to cells and removes waste products from cells.

– In the presence of water, chemical reactions can occur that would otherwise be impossible. Because of this, water acts as a catalyst to speed up enzymatic interactions with other chemicals.

– Drink because water acts as a lubricant! That means water helps lubricate your joints and acts as a shock absorber for your eyes and spinal cord.

– Body hydration and fluid exchange help regulate body temperature. Don’t be afraid to sweat! Helps regulate your body temperature. When we start to sweat, we know that our body temperature has risen. As sweat remains on the skin, it begins to evaporate, lowering body temperature.

– Did you know that water contains minerals? Drinking water is important as a source of calcium and magnesium. When drinking water is processed, contaminants are removed and lime or limestone is used to remineralize the water by adding calcium and magnesium to the water. Because remineralization varies by quarry location, mineral content can also vary.

What factors determine how much water we need:
What factors affect the amount of water we need? All of the following help determine how much water we need to drink.

Climate: Warmer climates can increase water needs by an additional 500 ml (2 cups) of water per day.

Physical activity demands: more or more intense exercise will require more water; depending on the amount of exercise that is performed, the water needs could be doubled.

How much we have sweated: the amount of sweat can increase the water needs.

Body size – Larger people will likely require more water and smaller people will require less.

Thirst – Also an indicator of when we need water. Contrary to popular belief that when we are thirsty we need water, thirst is usually not felt until 1-2% of body weight is lost. At that point, exercise performance declines and mental focus and clarity may diminish.
We know why water is important, but how do we hydrate properly? Fluid balance or proper hydration is similar to energy balance (food intake vs. output). Avoiding fluid imbalance is important for health.

We get water not only through the beverages we consume, but also through some of the food we eat. Fruits and vegetables in their raw form have the highest percentage of water. Cooked or “wet” carbohydrates like rice, lentils, and vegetables have a good amount of water, while fats like nuts, seeds, and oils have a very low water content.

Fluid needs by body weight:
One of the easiest ways to determine how much water you need is by body weight. This would be the basic amount you need daily without exercising. *Yes, you will need to find a metric converter like this to do the math.

Water needs: 30 – 40 ml of water per 1 kg of body weight

Example: If you weigh 110 lbs (50 kg), you will need between 1.5 L and 2 L of water per day.

Hydration indicators:
You should drink water constantly (not all at once) throughout the day. The body can only absorb a certain amount of water at a time. Any excessive consumption of alcohol could lead to health problems.

Thirst – As stated above, if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Urine: The color of your urine is also an indicator of your hydration level.

colorless to slightly yellowish – hydrated
soft yellow – hydrated
pale gold – hydrated
golden, dark golden or light brown – possible mild to moderate dehydration
brown – dehydrated

Hydration + electrolytes strategy:
These simple steps will help you hydrate more every day before and after training.

1. Determine how much water you need to drink daily using the body weight formula above.

2. Pre-hydration: Drinking about 2 glasses of water BEFORE intense exercise ensures adequate hydration to begin with.

3. During exercise: 1 cup (8 ounces) of water mixed with electrolytes (about 3/4 water to 1/4 electrolyte) every 15 minutes or so.

4. After exercise: fluid intake is required to aid in recovery. Recovering with a mix of water, protein, and carbs is a great idea plus electrolytes if needed. Formula: Approximately 15g of protein, 30g of carbohydrates, electrolytes and water.