Our body is made up of around 66% water and maintaining this as well as your blood electrolyte balance is really important to maintain good health. Electrolytes are responsible for conducting electrical impulses in the nerves and muscles and include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride. Maintaining Hydration and Electrolyte Balance is also critical to blood flow and therefore should be part of every endurance athletes nutrition plan to optimise athletic performance in training and racing
And what if you don’t drink enough?
If your are feeling thirsty, you are already somewhat dehydrated. The warning signs of dehydration include:
- Thirst and a dry mouth
- Muscle cramping
- Dark yellow urine
- Significant weight loss during exercise.
You can drink too much water.
Be careful about over compensating and drinking too much. During high intensity races, sodium is lost along with sweat. If you only use water to replace the lost fluid you may dilute your blood sodium concentration and you could end up with Hyponatremia. You need enough sodium in your blood along with other electrolytes to ensure your muscles and nerves can work as they are supposed to. To avoid this then it’s a good idea to drink fluids containing electrolytes during endurance events. Electrolytes are molecules capable of conducting eletrical impulses and include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride.
Should I use salt tablets?
I quite often get asked if salt tablets are a good idea if an athlete is going to be sweating and competing in hot weather. My answer is NO, they’re not a good idea, they have the opposite effect to what you actually want. They produce a very concentrated sodium solution which delays stomach emptying and rehydration as extra fluid must first be used by your body to dilute the sodium.
The best hydration strategy for endurance Triathletes, Runners, Swimmers and Cyclists is to stay fully hydrated leading up to race day. Good hydration is especially critical for the two to three days prior to race day as well as during the race.
When putting together a personalised nutrition plans for my clients, I always include a hydration plan as what to drink is equally important as what to eat to maximise their performance. If you’re serious about getting great results at your next race then you need a personalised nutrition plan. This will help to optimise your body composition and maximise your energy levels so you can go faster for longer at your next event and recover quicker with a decreased risk of injuries.
Get in touch and let’s discuss getting your personalised nutrition plan sorted.