Just a 2% decrease in body weight, as a result of sweating, can lead to a decline in performance. With proper hydration you can stay ahead of the game. Staying well hydrated is vital if you want to perform at your best. Water is essential for the body to function efficiently during exercise. If a significant amount of water is lost as sweat and not replaced, dehydration will occur. Dehydration reduces performance by increasing the strain on the body, decreasing work rate and increasing feelings of exertion.
Along with water, electrolytes are also lost through sweating; sodium being the electrolyte predominately lost. Electrolytes are vital within the body for physiological function. During exercise electrolyte consumption will aid carbohydrate uptake and fluid retention. This section provides you with theory and key tips on fluid intake that will help improve your performance and give you an edge.
Start Hydrated: Consume 5-7ml of fluid per KG of bodyweight (around 350-500ml) 2 hours before exercise.
Recorded Body Weight: Calculate sweat by recording body weight before and after exercise. 1Kg lost = 1 litre of sweat lost. If you are 1Kg lighter after exercise your sweat rate is around 1L/HR. Therefore you need to drink 1L of fluid to match sweat losses when exercising.
Drink little and often: Based on sweat rate, drink regularly during exercise to prevent a weight loss greater than 2%.If you don’t know your sweat rate, drink around 150ml every 15-20 minutes.
Recovery: Drink 1.5 times in fluid the amount of weight lost in Kg (1Kg=1L) i.e if you have lost 1Kg in weight drink 1.5 of fluid over the next 2-4 hours.
What to drink? Sports drinks are proven to be better than water, especially for endurance athletes as they contain both the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat.
When we exercise, our muscles produce heat. For effective performance our body needs to keep heat levels within safe limits, around 37/38°C. In order to keep our body temperature at the right level we sweat. Sweating gets rid of heat from the body through evaporation.
It is important to continually replace the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat in order maintain hydration otherwise dehydration will occur and performance will suffer. Dehydration by as little as 2% of body mass can reduce both mental (concentration, reaction time) and physical (endurance) performance.
Sweat and electrolyte loss is dependent on exercise intensity and duration, environmental conditions and the type of clothing worn. Individual factors such as body weight, heat acclimatisation and fitness will also influence sweat rate for any activity. As a result, an individual's sweat response can vary greatly.
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