Hydration + Electrolytes
Whether you are a beginner or elite athlete, proper hydration and electrolyte consumption are essential for healthy performance.
Our bodies are made up of mostly water so it’s important to replenish the water we lose. Body fluids contain electrolytes – salts of various types, each of which play a critical role in physiology and function in athletic performance.
Key electrolytes and required amount for normal, non-exerting person:
Chloride : 1 gram
All are important for heart, nerve and muscle functions as well as keeping fluid levels normal in different body compartments. Most people get the required amounts of electrolytes from foods and drinks, however with prolonged physical activity and higher sweat rates, the body loses electrolytes and it is important to replace them.
Exercising and adequate hydration:
If one has a healthy diet, it’s not necessary to supplement if exercising under one hour. For most, hydrating with water and a normal diet should suffice, depending on the activity. Beyond that, exerting the body with physical activity requires replenishing with the proper value of electrolyte ratios. The easiest way is with a supplement formulated with the proper ratio of electrolytes required to replenish to avoid muscle cramping and diminishment of minerals.
Tips for hydrating:
Don’t wait to drink when thirsty: A typical athlete should be hydrating one liter per hour. Rule of thumb for the average person is to drink the amount of ounces of water per half the body weight. This might be true for the average athlete, but for an athlete looking for optimal performance, they need more. I am notorious for not leaving the house without my water bottle. I take a 1.5 liter bottle with me to ensure I’m drinking throughout and it helps me keep track. I knowing if I drink 2-3 of these bottles per day, I’m hydrating properly.
What color is your urine? A healthy, hydrated person should be excreting urine of a light yellow to clear in color. Anything darker, yellow/brown means you’re dehydrated and should be mindful of getting electrolytes with water.
Chicken and Vegetable broth: They are great for replenishing a dehydrated body. After I ran the New York Marathon, I crossed the finish line covered in salt. I felt really weak and I almost couldn’t hold myself up. The aids at the med tent immediately gave me soup broth to revive me and get my levels back up.
Fruit and the sweet stuff: Fruit is an excellent source of water, sugar and electrolytes: Watermelon, Honeydew and Cantaloupe are all great to have pre or post-work out. I keep a fruit cut up in my refrigerator in well-sealed containers so they are readily available and convenient to snack on through the day. Nuts, dried fruit, raisins, pineapple, apricots, plums, figs, apples and bananas are all great for supplementing.
I prepare little snack bags of trail mix, also. I make on my own and have them readily available for grabbing on the go.
Using electrolyte tabs in water: NUUN
I use NUUN tablets because they are most convenient and I can trust I’m getting the proper amount of minerals to hydrate. The formula is made of plant-based ingredients, which means I’m avoiding sugar and chemical additives formulated in other readily available electrolyte drinks.
Food as medicine:
I infuse my own waters with fun recipes of fruits and herbs along with honey and sea salt for a homemade version of electrolytes.
Grapefruit Lime Tarragon Blueberrys with sea salt and honey:
Slice the grapefruit and lime
Add a handful of blueberries and half a bunch of Tarragon to a 40 oz pitcher of water Use 3 pinches of quality sea salt and a teaspoon of honey
Stir it up and leave in the fridge for a few hours
This should last for 2 days.
Blackberries Mint honey sea salt
Oranges Tarragon and or Spearmint Strawberries honey and sea salt
Get creative and make combinations of fruits and herbs you like
Hydrating for Performance:
Looking back at races where I “bonked” and couldn’t sustain the run, I’m well aware that I wasn’t fueled or hydrated properly. I now hydrate every morning prior to my run with a 32oz bottle of the formulas above and sip while I’m getting ready to go out. I notice a great difference with my endurance capacity, and muscle and tissue repair.
Throughout the day, I carry my large water bottle with electrolytes.
For Long runs (2 hours or more) I prepare small bottles with the electrolyte formulas and stash them in a hiding spot so that I can fuel on my run. I usually will stop every 30 minutes to hydrate, depending on the weather. With higher temperatures and humidity, I hydrate more frequently than in cooler weather.