Hydration for Endurance Athletes in the Heat of Summer , By Lauren Wentz

Whether you are an elite athlete or weekend warrior, hydration is important for everyone and commonly over looked by most. Proper hydration means getting enough fluid through out the day and before, during, and after physical activity.

Water helps transport nutrients to give you energy, lubricates joints and regulates your body temperature.

By not properly hydrating, you are most likely impairing your performance and health.  Several studies have confirmed that performance can be impaired when athletes are dehydrated. Endurance athletes should drink beverages containing carbohydrates and electrolytes during and after training or competition. The electrolytes assist with retention of water. Drinking during training or competition is preferred compared to fluid consumption after or before exercise only.

Replacing fluids from sweat loss is critical for performance gains. Proper hydration will enhance performance, avoid thermal stress and heat-related illnesses, lower sub-maximal exercise heart rate, maintain plasma volume, delay fatigue, and prevent injuries. It is recommended that endurance athletes replace sweat loss with fluid containing about 4-8% carbohydrates and electrolytes during training or competition.  Athletes should drink about 500 mL of fluid 1-2 hours prior to an event and continue consuming cold drinks through out activity. Cold fluid is ingested more quickly compared to room temperature fluid.

The unique combination of ingredients in Cocoa Elite’s Elite Endurance (see Heather Wilson’s blog about this Patented product) makes it a perfect product to help any athlete stay hydrated. It contains cool, refreshing, and natural ingredients, which provide athletic benefits beyond hydration.

The following are recommendations for proper hydration:

  • Drink at least 60-70 ounces of water per day. (This is in addition to what fluid you lost during your training.)
  • Consume 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising.
  • Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up.
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
  • For intense prolonged exercise lasting longer than 1 hour, consume between 30 and 60 g/h and drink between 600 and 1200 mL/h of a solution containing carbohydrates and Na+ (0.5 to 0.7 g/L of fluid).
  • Weigh yourself before and after exercise to gauge your net loss of fluids (naked). FOR EVERY LB LOST, gradually drink 24 fl oz per lb (1,500 ml per kg weight lost).
  • Try to include sodium in the fluids and food you consume as it is a more effective method. Keep re-hydrating until your urine is a pale yellow like lemonade, not darker like apple juice.

Heat Illness

Dehydration happens when you lose more fluid than you consume. Common symptoms of dehydration include: feeling lightheaded, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, dry mouth, lack of sweating, confusion, weakness, and increased heart rate.

There are 3 stages of heat illness:

  1. Cramps
  2. Exhaustion
  3. Stroke

CRAMPS

Symptoms of heat cramps include heavy sweating and muscle pain or spasms. It is recommended that you stop physical activity and move to a cool place, drink water or a sports drink, and wait for the cramps to go away before you do any more physical activity. Seek medical help right away when: cramps last longer than 1 hour, you’re on a low-sodium diet, or if you have heart problems.

EXHAUSTION

Heat exhaustion symptoms include: heavy sweating, cold, pale, and clammy skin, fast or weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, fatigue or weakness, dizziness, headache or fainting. If experiencing these symptoms, move to a cool place, loosen your clothes, put a cool, wet cloth on your body or take a cool bath and sip water. Seek medical attention right away if you are throwing up, symptoms get worse, or your symptoms last longer than 1 hour.

STROKE

Heat stroke symptoms include: high body temperature (103 degrees F or higher), hot, red, dry, or damp skin, fast or strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, and confusion or losing consciousness. If some one is experiencing heat stroke call 911 right away. Move the person to a cooler place. Then assist with lowering the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath.  Do not give the person anything to drink or eat

Hydration is key for optimal performance and healthy bodily function. Every athlete should monitor his or her fluid loss and intake pre and post exercise. Knowing the actions to take is a must, if you ever need to deal with heat-related illness symptoms.


1. Von Duvillard, S. P., Braun, W. A., Markofski, M., Beneke, R., Leithauser, R. (2004). Fluids and hydration in prolonged endurance performance. Nutrition , Volume 20 , Issue 7 , 651 – 656.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017). Warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html

 

Lauren Wentz is a physical therapist and an accomplished athlete.

A Virginia Tech graduate, Lauren holds her Crossfit Level 1 certification. She is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and practices in sports medicine and pediatrics.

Lauren is also a certified yoga instructor and teaches at Yoga on Main in Butler, PA.

Currently, Lauren is working at the Children’s Institute. She recently graduated from Slippery Rock University with a Masters in Adapted Physical Activity. Lauren is finishing her internship using her knowledge in adapted physical activity for mobility impaired/Paralympic athletes.

 

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