Mastering your hydration status - Why and How?
Hydration status is one of the most understated limiting factors to exercise performance. Not only is eating the right types of foods important for optimal performance, so too is drinking enough fluids and retaining in a state of hydration. Failure to do so can negatively affect exercise performance in a number of ways such as increasing the rate of muscle glycogen use, decreasing blood flow to the skin, reducing blood volume, decreasing sweat rate and consequently heat dissipation, and increasing the bodies core temperature beyond optimal levels. In fact, it has been shown that athletic performance can be impaired by up to 10%, by as little as a 2% weight loss through dehydration. On the plus side - maintaining adequate hydration levels can be achieved quite easily once you are aware of the issue and employ some simple strategies to help you stay consistent with your fluid intake.
These four tips may be of use:
1. Use the W-U-T protocol every morning to monitor your hydration status!
- Weight: has your morning body weight decreased?
- Urine: using the urine colour chart below, does your urine colour suggest you are dehydrated?
- Thirst: do you wake up feeling thirsty?
If the answer to two of these questions is yes, then you are likely dehydrated and need to start your day off with some extra fluid.
2. Monitor your urine colour throughout the rest of the day. This can be a simple and useful indicator of hydration status. Your urine should be light in colour (similar to lemonade - but not clear) and in significant quantity. Be aware that some vitamin tablets such as Berocca will severely darken urine colour and may give a false indication of dehydration, but in general your urine colour is a pretty accurate indication. Other indicators of dehydration can be fatigue, headaches, light-headedness or a dry mouth.
3. Bring a water bottle with you - everywhere you go! Similar to how you bring your phone with you no matter where you are going, your water bottle should be the same. Have it with you in the car, at work, at the gym, bring your own bottle to team trainings and leave it by your bed at night. This will make a huge difference to your hydration status as you will (somewhat unknowingly) constantly sip throughout each day, leading to a very consistent state of hydration. Adding fruits to your water is a great way of giving it a refreshing, healthy taste!
4. Vary your source of fluids! Fluid intake does not mean water alone. Smoothies, shakes, coffees and teas all count and can help you increase your fluid intake quite easily.