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Hydration techniques for athletes

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Rumor has it that our bodies are 75% water. Throw in a heavy dose of gym iron, a mid-May run, or any chosen physical activity, and our water tables start to dip. What isn’t rumor is that once we start to feel thirsty, dehydration has already started to settle in for a long uncomfortable stay.

When we feel thirsty, our first instinct is to guzzle down as much water as possible in as little time as possible. Most of us know that the only thing this reaction causes is the notorious Belly Slosh. Still, we wait to hydrate, and again & again we guzzle water down with a slosh & a frown.

Maybe the Belly Slosh is the best thing to come of our unfortunate procrastination. Slow recovery time, prolonged muscle soreness, and many other unwelcome ailments can be caused by poor hydration techniques. The following tips & tricks will help keep you mind sharp and your body strong all year long, no matter the season, no matter the reason:

  • Start each morning and finish each night with a glass of water. The benefits of these two steps are so spectacular, you’ll notice a difference in your daily appetite & nightly sleep habits within a week of this method. Don’t just stop here, drink water throughout the day, as well.
  • Fruit is a time delayed hydration treasure. Regular servings of fruit will keep you from hitting the bottle (of water) as often. Grapes, melons or berries are great pre-workout snacks, and the very process of digesting fruit will keep you hydrated longer and more efficiently.
  • Electrolytes help us hydrate faster & more efficiently. Whether you choose Powerade or Gatorade doesn’t matter as much as how you use them. The best method for hydrating or re-hydrating with sports drinks is to mix a small amount (4-6 oz is more than sufficient) with twice as much water (8-12 oz, for starters) then following up with more water. The electrolytes wake up our weary cells and prep them for the coming salvation of water. Just don’t go overboard and chug an entire bottle of any sports drink . . . it won’t necessarily hurt you in the short term, but there’s other junk in there besides the good electrolytes, and we don’t want too much junk.
  • Coconut water is a leaner, cleaner alternative to commercial sports drinks. Lots of good electrolytes, not so much (if any) of the junk. Coconut water also has high potassium content, which is excellent for overcoming post workout soreness. Still, 4-6 oz of Coconut Water per 8-12 oz of plain water is sufficient & efficient for our needs.
  • Caffeine & alcohol dehydrate. We’re not accepting applications for sainthood here, but remain mindful that any of our yummier beverages are working against you when it comes to trying to stay hydrated. If alcohol is the last thing we drink at night, or coffee the first grab we make in the morning, we are setting ourselves up for eventual & likely failure. Re-read step one. After that, the waking hours are ours . . . just be moderate.

Staying properly hydrated doesn’t require a lot of thought, but does demand a certain level of mindfulness. Understand & internalize the steps above for better gains, quicker recovery, a stronger mind, and a leaner body.

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