We’ve all head the “eight glasses a day” to help you stay hydrated. We all lead different lifestyles and can often forget to stay hydrated if we are busy. Being aware of your hydration status, and how to keep on top of it, is easier than you think and essential to maximising performance.
Benefits of Staying Hydrated
Desbrow et al. (2014) explored hydration in young athletes. Compared with adults, children and adolescents do not seem to regulate their body temperature well, particularly in the heat. Children gain more heat and appear to have a lower exercise tolerance when hot. They also lose more heat on a cold day, whilst having reduced sweating capabilities as noted by Meyer, O'Connor, & Shirreffs (2007). For general activities, sports drinks are likely unnecessary. However, if taking part in long, tough training sessions or competitions, carbohydrate and electrolyte drinks may provide some recovery benefits.
Dehydration could negatively affect performance and health (Sawka, Cheuvront, & Kenefic, 2015). The goal of post-exercise fluid recovery is to restore fluid balance before the next session.
- Carry a water bottle – possibly the easiest way to stay hydrated, you can get reusable 500 ml water bottles almost anywhere nowadays. If you know you’ll be out at work, in class, or out travelling, the humble water bottle is not to be underestimated.
- Urine Luck! – monitoring your hydration can be as easy as looking at the colour of your urine. If it’s a dark yellow colour, this is generally an indicator of dehydration. If your urine is clear, you’re likely well-hydrated and should keep on top of your drinking throughout the day. The chart below is a great guide.
- Little and often – it’s much wiser to drink little and often, hence the “eight glasses a day” idea. Imagine you gulp down a 500 ml bottle of water, and then have none left for the next two hours. Yes, you will likely be hydrated having drank the water, but the fact you wouldn’t have any for the next two hours could mean you’d be dehydrated! Little and often - stay on top of it.
Overall, drinking cool fluids like water and milk in sufficient quantities before, during and after participation in sport is beneficial for young athletes. Focus on hydration by monitoring your urine, aim for see-through wee and you’re a winner! Happy hydrating!
Liam Oliver, Nutrition Student.
Desbrow, B., Mccormack, J., Burke, L., Cox, G., Fallon, K., Hislop, M., ... Leveritt, M. (2014). Sports Dietitians Australia position statement: Sports nutrition for the adolescent athlete. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 24(5), 570-84.
Meyer, Flavia, O'Connor, Helen, & Shirreffs, Susan M. (2007). Nutrition for the young athlete. Journal of Sports Sciences, 25, S73.
Sawka, M., Cheuvront, N., & Kenefick, S. (2015). Hypohydration and Human Performance: Impact of Environment and Physiological Mechanisms. Sports Medicine, 45(Supplement 1), 51-60.