Fluid Replacement for Athletes

By Aaron Spencer

It is important tounderstand the critical need for fluid replacement during exercise – especially during warmer weather. We’ve created s few tips and strategies on how fluid replacement can be done properly.​

Girl drinking water
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

The first thing you need to do is recognize the signs of dehydration and what your body is telling you. The signs and symptom can come in many forms, but each is a warning sign for you to listen to. These signs may happen pre, during, and post exercise, so it’s important to be in tune with what your body is telling you. Here are a few common signs of dehydration:

  • Thirst
  • Irritability
  • General discomfort followed by:
    • Headache
    • Weakness
    • Dizziness
    • Cramps
    • Chills
    • Vomiting
    • Nausea
    • Decreased performance
Before Exercise

There are many techniques you can employ before even hitting the road. One of the best things you can do is create a personal hydration protocol to ensure you’ve properly prepared for training. Take a moment and create a checklist with the following:
  • Sweat rate
  • Sport dynamics (rest breaks, fluid access)
  • Environmental factors
  • Acclimatization state
  • Exercise duration
  • Exercise intensity
  • Individual Preference
To create baselines be sure to weight yourself before exercise, this can help guide you for future workouts. Use these hydration rates before exercising:

  • Consume 17-20 fl oz. of water or sports drink 2-3 hours before exercise
  • Consume 7-10 fl oz. of water or sports drink 10-20 minutes before exercise

During Exercise

While exercising drink in order to meet your own body’s needs! The general schedule is consuming 7-10 fl oz. every 10-20 minutes. It’s also important what you are putting into your body for hydration. If you’re exercising more than 45-50 minutes, sports drink is appropriate and if exercising less than 45-50 minutes, water is appropriate.

After Exercise

Take a moment to weigh yourself. You’ll want to drink enough fluids to limit weight loss to no more than 2% body weight and should be completed within 2 hours after exercise completion.

Again, it’s important what fluids you’re taking in. Here some appropriate fluids:

  • Water, sports drink, chocolate milk
  • Avoid:
  • Fruit juices
  • Carbohydrate gels
  • Soda / carbonation
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Various hydration systems

Luckily the consumer market has made staying hydrated while exercising much more convenient. Most of the consumer hydration systems can be worn and used during almost any form of activities. Some common ones include:

  • Small water bottle
  • Large water bottle
  • Camelbak-type hydration system
  • Aerobar water bottle
  • Fanny pack that holds water bottles
  • Or…. A good old fashion glass of water

For more information, please call Utah Valley Sport Medicine at 801.357.1200.​