By Vishal Patel
Hydration and its direct correlation to performance during exercise is a very complex topic, but an important one. Here at Nuun water and electrolytes are second nature, but it’s still important to share information that helps our hydrators understand how hydration can affect performance. Over the next several weeks, we will be tackling a series of topics that relates to fluid intake and hydration.
How Much Should I Hydrate?
The most common question we get at Nuun is, “How much should I drink during exercise?” The quick answer is: it depends. That’s because hydration needs are very different from person to person and vary based on our gender, age, body composition, environmental factors, hydration status and our current electrolyte balance.
To help you better understand your personal hydration needs here are some hydration guidelines for exercise from two organizations, the American College of Sports medicine (ACSM) and the International Marathon Medical Directors Association (IMMDA). And as experienced hydrators, we will throw in a few suggestions of our own!
Let’s take a look at what the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends:
- Exercise lasting less than an hour requires 3-8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes (1).
- For exercises lasting greater than 60 minutes, they recommend an intake of 3-8 ounces of a carbohydrate based sports drink every 15-30 minutes (1).
- While the ACSM agrees that hydration is important, they do not recommend exceeding 32 ounces of fluid per 60 minutes. They believe the slower yet consistent rate of drinking fluids will prevent dehydration and its inhibiting symptoms (1).
- Overdosing on fluids can lead to complications in a person’s overall athletic performance, just the same as dehydration has a negative impact on a person’s performance (1,3).
The second organization we want to take a look at is the International Marathon Medical Directors Association (IMMDA). The IMMDA provides hydration guidelines to the public based on published scientific literature. The guidelines were written by Tim Noakes, a well-respected researcher in the field, and were adopted as the hydration rules for the USA Track and Field team.
- During activity athletes should consume 400-800 ml, or 13.5-27 ounces per hour (2).
- The key to their recommendations is that they suggest athletes drink at ad libitum, or at their own discretion (2).
- Drinking at your own pace may eliminate the dangers of over-hydrating and leads people away from the concept of drinking as much as you can (2,3).
These guidelines are more practical, and result in a much safer and beneficial approach to hydration.
Both the ACSM and IMMDA have conducted several studies to reach their respected conclusions. For some people these guidelines will work great; for others, a different and unique approach will need to be taken for optimal hydration.
It’s important to remember when figuring out your hydration plan that everybody has a different physiology and each person absorbs and utilizes his or her fluid intake differently. While we understand that some people use carbohydrates during exercise, we chose not to include carbs in Nuun because we want you to be able to choose your own source of fuel.
The main piece of advice we give to athletes is to drink at your own discretion. Thirst is the only universal sign of dehydration we all understand, so if you feel thirsty while exercising just rinse out your mouth with some water before drinking a few sip of Nuun. Also, pay very close attention to weather and course conditions. These two factors will dictate your hydration needs. On a hot day or a hilly course you may need some extra fluids as your body works harder to keep you as cool as possible. The most effective and easiest way to preemptively avoid dehydration is to stay hydrated all throughout the day! To utilize Nuun as it’s meant to be used, drink it before and after your workouts for hydration and recovery purposes as well as during exercise and try Nuun All Day for your everyday hydration needs!
Need More Help? Take a Sweat Test!
If you’re struggling with how much to drink, we recommend taking a sweat test to help determine how much liquid you’re loosing, and thus need to replace during your exercise.
Our next article will focus on the functions, benefits, and uses of electrolytes! So be sure to tune in for our next blog update!
Citations and additional sources:
1. Clark, N. (2008). Sports nutrition guidebook. (4 ed., pp.183-185). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
3. Fink, H.H, Burgoon, L.A, Mikesky, A.E. (2009). Practical applications in sports nutrition. (2nd ed., pp 220-254). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, LLC.
4. Brochure on proper fluid intake by ACSM: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-hydration-for-fitness.pdf