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Hydration and exercise. How much water should I drink?

Hydration and exercise. How much water should I drink?

Water occupies more than half of our total body weight and helps transfer energy, by-products of metabolism, hormones, antibodies and heat. Water acts as the primary means of regulating body temperature through perspiration.A person needs to consume approximately 2,5 liters of water daily in order to replace the water lost in urine,excrement, perspiration and exhalation from the lungs. During exercise, the loss of sweat can reach up to 1 liter per hour, while occasionally it can exceed 2 liters per hour. The incomplete replacement of these fluids can lead to lower performance, dehydration and heat stress disorders, ranging from muscle cramps and heat exhaustion to the life-threatening heatstroke.

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Hydration before, during and after training:

  • Before you start exercising, drink from 240 up to 480ml water.
  • During your training, drink about 240ml every 15 to 20 minutes. In intense exercise, it is good to consume beverages with content from 6% to 8% of carbohydrates to keep blood glucose levels in balance.
  • After your training, drink up to 480 960ml water and enough liquids to ensure the replenishment of fluids. Avoid alcoholic drinks that act as diuretics.

Dehydration which is more than 3% to 5% of the body weight leads to a significant reduction of strength, endurance and the ability to work. The feeling of thirst understates the loss of liquids however we can appreciate the level of dehydration from the color of urine. When it is lucid and pale yellowish we are hydrated while when it is dark we are dehydrated. Great care is needed when we exercise in a warm environment.

Excess intake of large amounts of water can lead to hyponatremia, a condition characterized by dangerously low sodium concentration. Symptoms range from weakness, disorientation, seizures, coma, even death. It usually occurs when athletes consume 3 or more liters per hour in long-term activities.

For best results, we need to hydrate our bodies properly all day and to follow a healthy and full nutrition program.

For best results, we need to hydrate our bodies properly and to follow a healthy and full nutrition program. Click To Tweet

Read the 5 often asked questions about hydration here

About the author

Nael Chrysafidis

Physiotherapist

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