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Anatomy 101

ATHLETES WHO THINK KNOW WHAT TO DRINK 
by 
Mackie Shilstone
It’s a known fact that a well-hydrated athlete always functions at a higher level than one who exercises in a dehydrated state. According to the textbook, Exercise Physiology, when we’re dehydrated by 4.3%, our performance is reduced by 22%. 

When exercising for one hour, you can lose a quart of water. Each one pound weight loss during exercise represents 15 fluid ounces of dehydration. Marathoners have been known to lose more than 5 liters of fluid during a single race and football players who do not replace their fluid losses may lose 15 to 20 pounds during the course of a two-a-day practice session. 

What are the effects of dehydration? For one, it increases muscle glycogen use, which leads to premature fatigue. A three-to-five percent drop of water in the body can cause lightheadedness, headaches, dizziness and nausea. A seven percent drop can cause hallucinations and worse. Dehydration also raises the body's core temperature, which can lead to heat stroke and in extreme cases, even death. 

The solution, of course, is to drink plenty of water. Keep in mind that voluntary drinking only replaces about two-thirds of the body water lost as sweat. That’s because thirst is an imprecise indicator of dehydration. By the time you are thirsty you are already dehydrated.

 
"I recommend that my patients drink water instead of other liquids, especially drinks with caffeine and sugar-laden juices." 
 

If you are an active adult and exercise regularly, you should be drinking two-thirds of an ounce of water daily for every pound of body weight. If you plan to engage in prolonged and strenuous exercise, you should drink 17 ounces of water two hours before exercise to allow time for adequate hydration and excretion of excess water. While exercising vigorously, you should be drinking 5-12 ounces of water every 15 minutes to match sweat loss. After all, sweat is 90-99% water. 

I recommend that my patients drink water instead of other liquids, especially drinks with caffeine and sugar-laden juices. Although sports drinks can be useful for prolonged and strenuous activities, the American College of Sports Medicine contends that for normal exercise (lasting less than one hour in duration), there is little evidence of physiological or physical performance differences between consuming a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink and plain water.

 
   

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Revised: July 31, 2015.