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To get the most out of your workout, proper hydration is the name of the game. Ensuring that you have a great plan for your pre-, during, and post-workout routine will not only help your body get the maximum benefits from exercise, but it will also help you avoid heat-related illnesses and dehydration. Since there's so much information out there with differing opinions on this topic, here's a handy guide to get you started.
When you approach the subject of ensuring that you stay properly hydrated during your exercise routine, there's a lot of factors that you need to consider. How long are you going to be working out? What type of workout will you be doing? Is it going to be indoors, or outdoors in the elements? How much do you sweat? How much do you drink normally?
As you can see, a lot of variables affect what's best for your personal hydration needs. However, there are some base guidelines that can give you an idea of where to start:
It's important to remember that these are only guidelines and will vary based on your personal needs and drinking habits. Another good rule of thumb is to replace every 16 oz you sweat out with roughly 16 fl oz of water, but this does require weighing yourself before and after the workout. Make sure you're naked while weighing yourself, so your sweat-soaked clothes don't throw off the reading on the scale.
One more important thing to remember is to make sure you're not overdoing the hydration. While rare, it is possible to drink too much water and oversaturate your body, leading to something called hyponatremia, where your blood's sodium content becomes too diluted because it can't shed the excess water quickly enough.
In most cases, plain water will do the trick. A lot of times, however, there's a balance to be struck between your personal tastes and whether you need to replace lost sodium or electrolytes quickly. As long as you're reading nutrition information on your chosen drink, following recommended serving suggestions, and avoiding excess sugar intake, your favorite workout beverage will come down to what you like and what works best for your health needs.
With so many choices available now, like flavored waters, sports drinks, coconut water, and DIY options such as adding fruit to plain water, it's entirely possible to spice up your hydration routine with a mix-and-match approach to find your favorite drink of choice.
Even if you think you're drinking enough, it's still possible that changing situations and needs can lead to dehydration and even into heat sickness.
Some warning signs of dehydration include:
If these signs are ignored or not caught in time, they can lead into the various stages of heat-related illness, which includes:
While this guide is a great starting point to keeping you healthy and happy during your workout, in order to get the most out of your hydration plan it's best to consult with your doctor first. That way you can tailor the plan to your exact needs, and help ensure that problems won't be cropping up later on down the road. Here's to a happy, hydrated workout!
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