The proper hydration of an athlete plays one of the most important roles in an athlete's performance. With the proper hydration the athlete is more apt to have a higher level of performance. It is important to hydrate throughout the day, as this will increase the hydration level within the body. In general, the following guidelines should be followed to ensure proper hydration for athletes prior to and during practice or competition:
- The sensation of thirst should not be relied on as an indicator of needing fluids. As the thirst sensation arises, the body has already lost 1.5-2.0 liters of water. Hydration should occur prior to and during activity.
- Athletes should become used to consuming fluids without the senation of thirst. A helpful trick: carry water with you at all times. Consumption of water is more likely to occur if water is readily available.
- Enough fluids should be consumed during activity for the athlete to produce clear colored urine after activity. Dark colored urine indicates that the athlete is dehydrated.
- Approximately 1-1.5 hours prior to exercise the athlete should consume a large volume of fluid (up to half a liter) to assure adequate hydration and to improve gastric emptying. After this, the athlete should sip on fluids (aproximately half a cup every 10 minutes) to maintain proper hydration.
- Athletes should consume fluid as frequently and in as high volume as can be tolerated to replace water losses.
- Avoid foods and drinks that may have diuretic (water-losing) impact. For example, caffeine and related substances commonly found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and sodas cause an increase in the rate as which water is lost. Therefore, these substances should be avoided.
Benardot, Dan (2000). Nutrition for Serious Athletes. Champaign, IL: Dan Benardot.