Our body’s water balance is finely tuned with two third of our body weight consisting of water. For a life-sustaining metabolism, body heat regulation and transportation of nutrients through the blood cycle, the body needs to be well hydrated. Therefore it is necessary – no matter what sports you’re doing – to supply the body with sufficient fluids.
Our body is constantly losing water, through breathing, skin, urine and perspiration. Perspiring isn’t necessarily a sign for a bad physical condition. Those with great endurance often perspire the most. This helps heat regulation and prevents the body’s core temperature from reaching a dangerous level.
Compensating for loss of fluids
The level of perspiration proportionally increases with the intensity of the exercise, air temperature and humidity. In a passive state the body is perspiring two to three liters daily. People that sweat a lot also lose a great amount of water. A water loss of only 2% of your body weight considerably affects your performance. Therefore it is very important to compensate the loss of fluids during activity by consuming liquids that can be easily absorbed by the body to prevent dehydration.
Taking in liquids before the activity
Good marathon runners lose up to five liters of water through perspiration but they only have a bit more than two hours in order to replace the lost liquid. This is hardly achievable during the run itself. Therefore it is recommended to drink between 0.25 and 0.5 liters of liquid before the activity. When being active for more than 30 minutes you should drink small amounts (120 to 150 milliliters) every 10 to 15 minutes.
Studies have shown that lemonade or fruit juices, even if mixed with water, are not the right choice for physical activities.
A sports drink should be promptly transported from the stomach to the small intestine where it gets absorbed by the blood. Therefore the liquid’s osmolarity and carb level are decisive factors. The ideal carb level of an isotonic sports drink should be between 60 and 80 grams and should also contain between 400 and 500 milligrams of natrium. These kind of drinks have a three to four times faster rate of absorption than water. The ideal sports drink hasn’t been invented yet but there are some functional isotonic drinks on the market that fulfill these requirements.
- Drink before any physical activity
- When active for less than 30 minutes take in liquids straight after the activity
- During longer and intensive physical activity you should regularly drink taking small gulps
- A sports drink should be reabsorbed quickly
- After intensive physical activity fruit juice mixed with water helps to rapidly compensate for lost liquids