Cracked lips, dry skin?  Drowsiness, decreased energy or brain fog?  Rapid heart rate and more frequent muscle cramps?  Thirst?  These are all possible signs of poor hydration, especially during hotter weather, and indicators you may benefit from modifying your hydration approach. 

Water is one of the most important nutrients athletes need to achieve overall health and performance goals.  Now that school has resumed and dual sports (many of which are outside) are underway, hydration is more important than ever.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that athletes should not lose more than 2% of their body weight from fluid loss when exercising.  For example, if an athlete weighs 120 pounds, he should not lose more than 2.4 pounds during a workout.  Quick Conversion:

1 liter of water is 2.2 pounds
240 ml=8 ounces
1 liter =~32 ounces
8 ounces=1 cup

To ensure that athletes stay healthy, safe, adequately hydrated, and to promote optimal performance during hectic sports seasons, follow these general guidelines:

·       24 hours prior to an event: consume a nutritionally balanced diet and drink adequate fluids
·       2-3 hours before working out: consume 16 ounces of fluid (~2 cups)
·       30 minutes before working out: drink 6-8 ounces of fluid (3/4 - 1 cup)
·       Every 15 minutes during workout: drink 4 ounces of fluid (1/2 cup)
·       Directly following training: drink 12-16 ounces or more of fluid (1-2 cups)

What type of fluid should Athletes consume?

For an activity that lasts less than one hour, water should be your go-to drink of choice.  If the athlete is training at a moderate or high intensity level for longer than one hour, sports drinks may be useful to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes caused by sweating.  Additionally, the intensity of the workout will likely cause carbohydrate reserves in the muscles to decline, along with blood sugar, decreasing overall energy. 

When ingesting water or sports drinks, take small sips (less than 4 ounces at a time) to avoid stomach issues.  The body can't absorb large amounts of liquid at a time.  The exact amount needed varies among athletes according to weight, amount of sweat and sodium loss, and the intensity of the activity.  Refer to the guide above for a starting point.

Final tips:
·      Hydrate regularly throughout the day, not only when training or performing.
·      Eat your water by consuming high water content fruits and veggies like watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, peaches, oranges, cucumbers, bell peppers, and lettuce.
·      Incorporate sodium and potassium-rich foods in your snacks and meals such as potatoes, bananas, coconut water, and yogurt.  Nuun tablets are great for sodium replacement.
·      Use Sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade only when training at moderate to high intensities for over one hour. 
·      Drink water even when you "don't feel thirsty". Your body won't always alert you of thirst.