Hydration: The underappreciated performance enhancer
The summer heat is on and with it comes increased sweat with exercise. Sweating is necessary for the body to cool it’s core temperature, and without effective sweating we would essentially cook our cells.
People sweat in different ways. For some, the sweat pours off of their bodies and leaves a puddle behind. Others find that the sweat evaporates from their skin, which is much more effective at dissipating heat and, therefore, cooling the body. Generally, women sweat more efficiently than men, but knowing where you land in the sweat spectrum is key to effective hydration.
A simple sweat test will reveal your sweat rate. To do this, weigh yourself, naked, before exercise and then again after. Be sure to wipe all sweat off your body prior to the post workout weigh-in. For every pound (16 oz) lost, plan to consume 3 cups (24 oz) of fluid.
The average fitness aficionado exercising 45-60 minutes a day won’t need to worry much about their exact sweat rate. Drinking fluids during exercise will, generally, provide adequate fluids to replenish losses; however, if you notice extreme fatigue, headaches, or difficulty concentrating during or after exercise, it might be beneficial to determine your exact sweat rate.
When considering how to replace that fluid lost through sweat, it’s important to note that sports drinks vary in content, taste, and cost. Choosing the best product to maintain energy and fluid balance during and after a sweaty workout can seem confusing, but focusing on a few essential factors can simplify the process. The key electrolytes lost through perspiration are sodium, chloride and potassium. Because sodium is lost at a higher rate than the other electrolytes, you will want a sports drink with 100-200 mg of sodium per 8 ounce serving.
Heavy sweaters may require higher amounts of sodium in their hydration beverage of choice, though. Additionally, a sports drink should contain approximately 50 calories (15 grams) per 8 ounces for optimal energy and absorption. Other more personally relevant considerations are taste, general appeal, texture, and cost. Be sure to do any experimenting with different products during training and to bring your favorite pretested sports drinks to races or events. No one wants to find out they don’t react well to a hydration product on race day!
If you feel overwhelmed putting together a hydration plan, just ask a registered dietitian nutritionist or personal trainer for advice.
WRITTEN BY Beth Zenke, RDN
Beth's active childhood matured into three sports a year in high school, which turned into a lifelong love for fitness and health. After a serious health scare her freshman year of college, Beth decided to pursue a degree in nutrition. She completed a degree in human biology with an emphasis in nutrition at the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay and a post- baccalaureate internship at Mount Mary College. After passing the registration exam, Beth became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). She then accepted a position at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Milwaukee where she primarily worked in Oncology helping cancer patients during and after treatment. These experiences convinced Beth that healthy eating can fit into anyone's life, but it doesn't look the same for any two people. A healthy lifestyle needs to be tailored to each individual's wants, needs, and beliefs.
Along with her passion for healthful food choices, Beth believes remaining active is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. Beth has completed numerous half marathons. Her daily commitment to fitness is supplemented as often as possible with active, adventurous travel experiences; she's jumped in the water to explore the Great Barrier Reef and hiked the Incan trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, tackled Mount Teide in the Canary Islands, and enjoyed the differing terrain of the Tetons and Yellowstone.
Beth has enjoyed indoor and outdoor cycling for over a decade. After having her first daughter, her workouts moved primarily indoors, which is when she discovered her love for a good cycling class. Building on those experiences, Beth's own classes focus on differing intensities and drills that keep the mind occupied while the legs produce some major power. She believes music can truly motivate a person to push to their full capability and welcomes any and all requests.
Beth and her husband Ryan live in Glendale with their two young daughters: Laura and Anneliese. She enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
The thoughts and information set forth on this website are not intended to provide medical advice and are not intended to treat, diagnose, or prevent any disease or ailment. The material provided on this website is for informational purposes only and should never be used in lieu of formal medical diagnoses or treatment with a qualified physician. All individuals should undertake a complete physical before commencing any diet, exercise or health program.