1. KNOW THE DANGERS OF DEHYDRATION
You should be proactive about staying hydrated. Try not to wait until you are thirsty to start drinking. According to Clark (2014), “by the time your brain signals thirst, you may have lost 1% of your body weight, which is equivalent of 1.5 pounds or 3 cups of sweat for a 150lb person”. One percent may not seem like a significant amount, but at 2% loss you are classified as dehydrated, and at 3% loss your aerobic function is significantly impaired (Clark, 2014).
2. HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE DRINKING ENOUGH WATER
Check your urine color and quantity. If the urine color is dark, then it has a high concentration of metabolic waste and you need to increase your water consumption through drink or food. Once the color is back to a pale yellow (lemonade color) you have returned to a normal water balance. Your urine should not be clear either. This is an indication of over hydration.
Calculate your sweat rate during exercise. According to Clark (2014), the average for sweat loss is between 1-4 pounds per hour. If you want to specifically calculate your sweat loss, you should weigh yourself (nude) before your workout and then again after an hour of exercise. You should then drink 80-100% of the amount you lost during exercise (Clark, 2014). Example: If you lost 1 pound during an hour of exercise, you should replace 13-16 oz of water while exercising to make sure you stay properly hydrated.
Pay attention to how you feel, especially on really hot days. Do you have a headache, feel lethargic, or fatigued? These can be indicators of dehydration. We all want to enjoy the summer and all the fun things that come with being with our families and enjoying the beach, camping, hiking, walks…but if you are not properly hydrating yourself, you will not feel up for participating. Even worse, you may become short with others because of dehydration. Don’t let something that is so easy to avoid ruin your family fun time.
3. KNOW HOW TO REPLACE ELECTROLYTES
We sweat out more then just water. We sweat out important electrolytes as well. How do we replace the electrolytes we lose from sweat?
Here is a simple table that gives a basic rundown of the average loss of electrolytes in 2 pounds of sweat:
* (Clark, 2014)
The lost electrolytes can be replaced by either food or drink. Much of our foods contain enough sodium to easily replace the amount that was lost during exercise. To replace potassium, you can easily meet the requirement by eating a banana, which contains about 450mg. As far as calcium and magnesium, you can replace both of these by consuming 1 cup of spinach, which contains about 30 mg of calcium and 24 mg of magnesium. All of the electrolyte components, besides sodium, can be replaced by consuming a green smoothie. Again, sodium is easily replaced through the average diet, unless there is an excessive amount of sweat loss. To put this into perspective, one teaspoon of salt contains 2,325 mg of sodium.
Clark, N. (5Ed.). (2014). Nancy Clark’s sports nutrition guidebook. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.