Understanding Hydration - Hybrid
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Understanding Hydration

What is hydration, and how do we begin to fully understand it?

First, we must break down exactly what it is, then we can delve deeper into how we can use this knowledge to benefit ourselves when training.
Hydration levels simply refer to the amount of water content in our body. When we exercise, we inevitably lose water through sweat and in the air we breathe out from within our respiratory tract. Our normal levels of hydration can fluctuate a great deal during intense exercise, particularly when we exercise in the hot and humid environments like Hong Kong.
With the high temperature and humidity levels in Hong Kong, it is vital we have a basic understanding of the most effective, suitable and inexpensive methods of rehydrating ourselves after training. Most people believe that our thirst response is a reliable measurement of hydration levels and this often lets us leave a blind eye to the extent to which our sweat rate is elevated during training and in a humid climate. As a result of this, we can find ourselves in a state of hypohydration, where we are well below our normal levels of euhydration. Athletes can lose up to 10 litre’s per day when partaking in exercise. As such, it is paramount that we monitor our water balance and ensure sufficient fluid intake to replace these losses.

Training in a hypohydrated state can have adverse affects on our cardiovascular function

 

 

It can incur heat strain and an inability to sustain a required cardiac output for activity. A simple tool to measure our sweat losses during a workout can be done using the following equation: (Body Mass Pre – Body Mass Post) + (Fluid) – (Urine) . Merely measuring body body weight pre and post can be a useful tool to determine the amount of fluids we should ingest post exercise.

Intra and post exercise drinks are often encouraged to contain around 20-50mmol of sodium per litre, so as to ensure the athlete has optimum plasma electrolyte levels. We often see drinks combined with CHO and electrolytes which leads to slower absorption of fluid and can reduce gastrointestinal distress from ingesting too much water too quickly. Water on its own has no ‘charge’, and therefore in HK, don’t shy away from having drinks such as Pocari on stressful training days.

Familiarising yourself with fluid intake and training the gut with the amount and content of your drinks is an important practical recommendation for athletes.

 

 

The last thing we want is to suffer from gut distress or bloated feelings when exercising as a result of over-drinking when dehydrated. A recommendation for post-exercise would be to consume 150-200% of fluid losses and include ~6mmol of sodium to ensure our net fluid balance and plasma osmolality return to a homeostatic state – two crucial factors for optimal functional of all physiological processes.

There are various tools we can use to ensure we maintain maintain levels of hydration throughout the day, and it is important we recognise the impact that dehydration can have on not only our performance, but our cognitive function and ability to work effectively throughout the day. Couple this with the training regime of many professionals in Hong Kong, and it becomes obvious how quick we can stray away from the adequate levels of hydration required for us to function optimally.

Water makes up an average of 60% of our total body mass, hence, it is vital to keep our levels of hydration up.

 

 

So, with this in mind make sure to to train hard, but stay hydrated!
– Gabriel Carroll
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