Staying hydrated is important at all times, especially when exercising.
If you don’t drink enough fluids before, during and after exercise, especially when you sweat a lot, you risk becoming dehydrated. Dehydration plays a huge role in mental and physical health. When you become dehydrated, everything in your body is affected, from your muscles to your cells and cognitive functions. Dehydration can also cause fatigue and dampen your motivation. Additionally, proper hydration helps improve exercise performance. This can help pump blood more efficiently and cool your body. It can help to perceive effort, and thus to feel better.
The exact amount you should drink varies depending on temperature, humidity, and your level of exertion. But one of the easiest ways to monitor your hydration is to monitor the color of your urine. When you are well hydrated, the color of your urine turns pale yellow, like the color of wheat. If you are dehydrated, it will be darker in color. Other signs of dehydration are extreme thirst, dizziness, and confusion.
Here are the most common hydration mistakes to watch out for.
1. You don’t drink enough alcohol before, during and after exercise.
For most people, try to drink about 500ml of water in the two hours before exercising, plus 200ml about 20-30 minutes before starting the workout. During exercise, try to drink 200ml of water every 10-15 minutes. Next, drink between 500 and 700 ml of water. The more you sweat during exercise, the more fluids you’ll need.
2. You don’t plan how to stay hydrated.
If you go for a long walk, run, jog, or swim, you may forget to keep water on hand or you may not feel the need to fill a bottle. But relying on water fountains for hydration is a mistake. “Most of the time people get dehydrated and end up binge drinking after exercising, and then it’s too late.
Instead, plan exactly how you will hydrate your body during exercise, and find a hydration-carrying regimen. For example, some people like to use fanny packs or carry a lightweight backpack. Riders may choose to use a hand-held water bottle. If you ride a bike and have a bottle holder on your bike, use it, but remember to clean and refill the bottle between workouts.
3. You cannot replenish lost electrolytes
On average, a person loses up to half a liter of sweat every 30 minutes when exercising. This number can be as high as three liters of sweat per hour, depending on your metabolic rate.
Sweat is mostly made up of water, but it also contains important electrolytes: sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Electrolytes are minerals in the body that are found in body fluids such as blood and urine. They help manage a number of body functions, including nutrient absorption, waste disposal, and water distribution in the body.
Sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea can cause you to lose electrolytes, leaving you feeling dehydrated or causing cramps and muscle spasms. Sodium is the electrolyte that your body loses the most when you sweat, so if you sweat a lot, you need to replenish your salt intake to help you stay hydrated.
People who exercise intensely for about an hour, or who exercise in the heat, should have a sports drink to help replenish their electrolytes. But it is important to think carefully about the choice of drink, because you may be making another mistake with your fluid intake.
4. You chose the wrong sports drink.
One of the keys to replacing lost electrolytes is choosing the right sports drink. Many sports drinks are specifically designed to maintain the electrolyte balance in the body when you sweat a lot. You can also find electrolyte powder or tablets at many drugstores, which you can mix in a water bottle. Coconut water replaces lost minerals such as potassium, sodium and manganese. But check the label to confirm the electrolyte content, which varies by brand.
Many people choose the sugar-free, calorie-free, or low-sodium sports drinks that are commonly found. But a sports drink needs to provide you with carbs and sodium, so you really need to make sure you have both in the drink. If you’re into a sports drink, there’s a reason for it.
Avoid energy drinks that are high in caffeine and sugar, which can lead to increased blood pressure, irritability, insomnia, and an increased risk of dehydration.
Keep in mind that both adults and children should choose sports drinks only over water during intense exercise lasting more than an hour.
5. You are not getting enough magnesium
As an electrolyte, magnesium helps restore hydration while you recover. But many people don’t meet the recommended magnesium intake, especially men over 70 and teens. In this case, consider adding more magnesium-rich foods to your diet. Choose legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, leafy greens, milk and yogurt. Fortified foods, such as fortified cereals, can also help increase magnesium intake.
Magnesium supplementation may also have beneficial effects on your training. If you suffer from leg cramps or muscle aches, using magnesium powder can help the muscles relax. Research published in Nutrients in 2017 indicated that magnesium supplementation may help improve exercise performance, including grip strength and lower leg strength. But more research is needed to confirm these potential effects.
You can find magnesium powder in many drugstores. Mix it with water and drink it hot or cold. You can also find magnesium in many vitamin, mineral, and other nutritional supplements.
Remember, however, that the top recommendation for magnesium taken in supplement form is 350 milligrams (mg) per day for adults and children ages 9 to 18. Exceeding this amount can lead to diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps. Extremely high consumption can lead to irregular heartbeat and even cardiac arrest. Magnesium supplements may also interact with some medications, including bisphosphonates, antibiotics, diuretics, GERD and stomach ulcer medications, and zinc supplements. Talk to your doctor if you’re considering a magnesium supplement, especially if you’re taking any of these medications.
6. You drink alcohol after exercise
Perhaps you want to unwind at the end of the day by opening a refrigerated bottle. But if your happy hour is after a workout, think again. Drinking alcohol after exercise is a mistake. Alcohol is not a rehydration drink. It does not have the correct nutritional profile to serve as a recovery drink. In fact, alcohol contributes to dehydration. Ditch the booze after your workout, and opt for a glass of water or a sports drink.
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