Hydration Tips for Peak Performance and Safety

24 September 2013
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Hydration Tips for Peak Performance and Safety

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published for Golazo by Emily Edison of Momentum Nutrition & Fitness. 

When you are out on the field, whether training or playing a game, everyone wants to perform at their best. Staying hydrated plays a critical role in your performance and your safety. But what should you drink? How much should you drink? Are those sports drinks the preferred option or are they unhealthy? Let’s look at some guidelines for hydration.

What should I drink and how much?

For intense workouts, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that athletes drink 8-16 ounces of fluid before, 4-8 ounces per 20 minutes of activity during (depending on weight), and up to 24 ounces of fluid after a workout. That’s a lot of fluids! But how do you know which ones are best?

Sometimes Water Isn’t Enough

People frequently ask me whether their kids should drink plain water. For many occasions, water is great. However, when you are training or playing for more than an hour, or exposed to hot temperatures (or both!) you need extra help in the form of electrolytes to stay healthy and perform at your best.

Additionally, we know from numerous field studies that the right amount of simple carbs in the form of sucrose (AKA sugar) can increase soccer performance and fluid intake.

Electrolytes — What You Need to Know

When you drink water, electrolytes (in the form of minerals like sodium and potassium) help fluid enter your cells. If your body is low on electrolytes you may not be able to absorb water into the cells — this causes dehydration to set in.

Symptoms such as loss of mental alertness, lethargy, and irritability cause loss of performance (and team spirit!). If dehydration is not corrected it can lead to serious health consequences and even a trip to the ER. So, it’s important to drink water and supplement with adequate electrolytes when needed.

It’s even tougher to hydrate when you’re a kid

Kids generate more heat than adults, and they are not as good at getting rid of the heat. This occurs because they don’t begin sweating as quickly as adults and their surface-to-body mass is higher, which means they absorb more heat.

To make it more challenging, kids are less likely to think about hydrating. Kids like flavored, colored beverages and research shows they drink more when these are present. As a sports nutritionist and mother of two, I like to see drinks that are naturally colored and only lightly sweetened for health and for performance. Remember: in hot weather and/or extended playing time, the goal is fluid, electrolyte and carbohydrate intake.

Look for Healthier Ingredients

I know from experience that in the world of sports there are a lot of performance-defeating options. The great news is healthier options are now available. For example, Golazo Sports Hydration, which Golazo asked me to help formulate, uses coconut water as a natural source of potassium and contains half the sodium of the leading drinks because most of us get plenty of salt in our daily diet already. Golazo also has natural colors, like beta-carotene from carrots, instead of artificial dyes. Golazo uses GMO-free cane sugar to deliver the right amount of simple carbs for optimal performance.

So remember the keys: 1) Keep hydrated to ensure you stay focused and play at your best; 2) Compliment water intake with an all natural sport drink and; 3) Seek out healthier drink and snack choices.

Have fun, and stay hydrated out there!