Colin Allan is a professional rugby-player-turned-PT and performance coach, with a specialist interest in hyper-tailored training and nutrition. Enertor have teamed up with Colin to bring you professional advice on all things fitness. In this post, Colin looks at one of the most important things we need to bear in mind when training - hydration. Take it away Colin.... Being hydrated is fundamental to our functioning as humans. Water lubricates our joints and our eyes, it aids digestion, flushes out waste and keeps our skin healthy. It is estimated that we are composed of between 45 -72% water and this water is the medium for what we call our metabolism. Being well hydrated for training and competition is possibly the easiest and most cost effective way to positively impact on our performance. EQUILIBRIUM - Our bodies are constantly trying to maintain the balance between our fluid intake and loses. We lose fluids via illness, respiration, perspiration, urination/excretion and this needs to be replaced through the food we eat and the fluids we consume. We lose approximately 2.5 litres per day, of which a well balanced diet should replenish approximately 1litre; this leaves the remaining 1.5 litres to be replaced by 6-8 glasses of water or herbal teas. Caffeinated drinks don't count towards our fluid intake as they are diuretics and make us urinate more than we consume. Maintaining this fluid balance in our bodies becomes even more important during bouts of physical activity. Depending on clothing, environment and exercise-intensity you will experience an increase in body temperature. Sweat is the primary mechanism by which we dissipate this excess energy to maintain our core temperature and not only do we lose water but we also excrete minerals that are important for fluid balance, muscle contraction & neural activity. In longer endurance events lasting longer than 60-70 minutes it is important to consume fluids with added electrolytes. Small changes of less than 2% body weight have little effect on performance. Greater than 2% will impair performance and reductions of around 5% body-weight can result in heatstroke. The easiest means of regulating you hydration is to check the colour of your pee and be sure it is clear or a light straw colour. (But also be aware if you are taking a multivitamin or vitamin C supplement as they can cause a yellowing of your pee). MONITOR - Track your hydration through a nutrition tracker such as Myfitnesspal or a dedicated hydration app. A loss of 1-2 kgs from training is common, DO NOT think during winter that the need to consume water before, during or after training is reduced! The goal of drinking during is to avoid excessive (>2%) loss, so a good habit to build is hydrating while exercising to minimise losses. If you want to have a more precise understanding you can weigh yourself before and after training sessions to understand your needs 1kg reduction in body weight is roughly equivalent to a lose of 1.5 litres of fluid. CLEAR PEE - Even if you are dehydrated you will continue to pee in order to clear out metabolic waste products meaning you will need to consume more than you lose. Electrolytes can be added to improve fluid retention post exercise however all minerals can be obtained from a well balanced diet. Hydration 5 Take Home Tips
- Consume 250-500ml (or ½ pint – 1 pint in old money) water immediately on rising to offset dehydration through respiration (try hot water with lemon now it’s turned cold).
- Your pee should be clear & you should always have water close to hand; drink little and often.
- Consume 5-7ml/kg four hours before exercise. If you’re urine is still dark then 3-5ml/kg should be ingested two hours before.
- Keep a log of pre- and post-run weights to understand better your hydration needs and rehydrate.
- Consume 150% of weight lost in fluid and include electrolytes as necessary.