Hydration and how it affects the Performance

September 22, 2020 22 By Sukriti

Hydration is one of the basic tenets of a good nutrition program and general health. Importance of water intake is not a new topic to discuss. We all know the benefits of it.

Being a sports person, I always wish to emphasize on maintaining optimum hydration levels. Especially during training and competition. When everything else is on the right track for an athlete, but the hydration levels are not maintained, the performance gets affected.

Dehydration can affect your performance:

The body is made up of 60% water, losses of 2% can cause

  • Muscle fatigue.
  • Inability to regulate body temperature
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Decreased energy and athletic performance.
  • Heat illness (cramps, heat exhaustion).

Any sport that involves exertion and sweating, hydration level need to be maintained. Some sports like Table Tennis, where the amount of movement is less as compared to other sports. One does need to hydrate well.

Playing back to back matches or training intensities when high, fluid intake is the necessary for better performance or injury prevention.

Hydration tips before a match:

  • Avoid or limit caffeinated beverages (coffee, iced tea, cola) especially right before and after a match. These does not hydrate as well as diuretics.
  • Have a minimum of two liters, fill and chill bottles or sports jugs available during the match or practice.
  • Consume enough fluids throughout the day so the urine is a light or pale yellow color before starting a match.
  • Drink 17 to 20 oz of fluid within two hours before the match and as close to match time.

Most of the myths about hydration is revolves around the consumption of water. One needs to understand that, it is not the water content alone that maintains your optimum hydration levels. The electrolytes like sodium, chlorides, potassium etc are equally important. Drinking too much of fluids is also not recommended. As it may cause fullness and discomfort during the game or training. The athletes should take sips of water at regular intervals.

Foods to balance fluid levels:

  • Water: Water is the best fluid to consume while sports training. But, water lacks the electrolytes essential for maintaining electrolyte balance. Hence, along with water- consuming other fluids which contain electrolytes is better to increase strength.
  • Coconut milk: Coconut water is a better alternative for water to replace lost electrolytes. And coconut milk is even better that coconut water after a workout. Coconut milk is rich in all minerals and essential fats. Which are required for better muscle recovery after exercise.
  • Lemon water: Lemon juice, water and salt are an excellent alternative for water for consuming while exercising. Lemon water not only contains water and electrolytes, but it also contains vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water- soluble vitamin which is also lost with water. It is required for the process of energy generation by every cell.
  • Milk: Recent finding have revealed that, milk is one of the best recovery fluids for resistance exercise, due to its high nutrient content. And milk is more effective at replacing sweat losses. And to maintain hydration than plain water or sports drinks (Shirreff et al., 2007). This is because milk contains all the essential amino acids, which are required to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Carbohydrates within the milk stimulate the release of insulin when ingested.

The importance of hydration is essential not only for physical health, but for mental health as well. Hydration is vital to optimal performances.

To know about the mental training in sports. Read the article on: Mental Aspects of Sport Performance