Hydration for Exercise

Let’s talk about hydration. Specifically hydration for exercise. How much water should you be drinking each day? 

Water is a critical, because it:

  • helps to regulate your body’s temperature
  • lubricate your joints
  • get rid of your body’s toxic waster
  • helps you have regular bowel movements
  • and overall keep you and your body healthy!

 

What can happen when you become dehydrated?

  • Feeling overheated,
  • Having brain fog aka — unclear thinking
  • Dizziness/light-headedness
  • Headache/migraine-like symptoms
  • Muscle cramping
  • Tiredness/fatigue 

 

So how much water should you be drinking? A Registered Dietitian (like me) can help you calculate an exact number based on your individualized criteria. But, a general rule of thumb is dividing your body weight by 2 to determine total ounces you should drink each day.

weight (in pounds) ÷ 2 = daily fluids in ounces

It’s important to have proper hydration before, during, and after exercise to ensure your body is functioning the best it can.  There are many factors to take into consideration, including heat, humidity, length of time exercising, and sweat rate. A few things to look out for are:

  • Air temperature: as the weather get warmer, the more sweat is lost 
  • Intensity of exercise: the higher the intensity, the more sweat is lost 
  • Duration of exercise: longer exercise sessions result in more sweat loss 
  • Fitness: well trained athletes generally sweat less than less trained athletes 

So how much water does one need? 

A general rule of thumb for exercise is having an additional 8 ounces per 30 minutes of exercise. So if you are going to workout for 45 minutes in the gym, you need approximately 12 additional ounces of water on top of your daily needs.

total exercise minutes/30 minutes x 8 ounces = additional fluid ounces needed

If you want to get more specific with amounts of fluids and timing, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends consuming:

  • 17-20 ounces water 2-3 hours before exercise
  • 8 ounces of water 20-30 minutes before exercise
  • 7-10 ounces every 10-20 minutes during exercise
  • 8 ounces of water within 30 minutes post exercise

 

Please note: these are general guidelines, based on your needs, goals, and health status you may require more or less fluids that these guidelines. If you are looking to learn more about your custom nutrition and fluid needs, look at my custom health coaching program.

 

I workout regularly, should I be taking extra electrolytes? 

First off, what are electrolytes? 

Electrolytes are essential minerals in the body that are vital to our body’s daily functions (such as regulating chemical reactions in the body and maintaining the balance between fluids inside and outside your cells). Every cell in the body contains these important electrolytes. And don’t worry about getting too much, because you lose electrolytes by sweating, and our kidneys help to filter out any excess.There are key electrolyte components that your body needs in order to maintain normal electrolyte levels: sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, chloride, phosphate, and bicarbonate. 

What do electrolytes do?

Electrolytes are used by the cells in your body to conduct electrical charges, allowing your muscles to contract and help with chemical reactions. This aids in the balance of fluids inside and outside your cells. 

 

My Recommendations for the Best Electrolyte Supplements

Nuun

Nuun comes in tablets that you let dissolve in a glass of water, adding many minerals including sodium, potassium, chloride, and calcium. There are different varieties, including ones for daily hydration, sport hydration, endurance, immunity, and more. Nuun are sweetened with stevia leaf extract and come in a wide variety of flavors. They are available in various stores, including Amazon for $24 for a pack of 4 tubes (10 tablets per tube). 

 

Ultima

Ultima is a personal favorite, and is a powder poured into a glass of water. This electrolyte powder contains sodium, calcium, potassium, vitamin C, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, manganese and chloride. There is also no sugar or artificial sweetener added to this supplement. I like this brand too because they offer the powder in to-go stick form to throw in your car or bag, but they also have tubs so you can determine how much you want in your glass (for example, on a general day I might have 1 scoop, but may take more if I exercise or am experiencing a POTS flare). They offer a variety of fruity flavors or citrus, even unique flavors such as Passionfruit and Mocktini. I see Ultima at nearly every grocery store I go to, but you can also find them on Amazon, here’s a to-go package for $17.99 (variety, 20 count).

 

LMNT

LMNT is also a powder that you pour into a glass of water. Coming in a 1000mg of sodium, 200mg of potassium, and 60mg of magnesium, this electrolyte drink is a powerhouse. Because of the high sodium levels, I wouldn’t recommend this supplement for everyone, but would be key for those diagnosed with POTS/Dysautonomia or Cystic Fibrosis. It would also have potential heavy sweaters and/or heavy activity. LMNT comes in a variety of flavors and can be purchased on Amazon for $20 for a pack of 12 packets. 

 

BioPure

Lastly, let’s talk about an unflavored option. If you’re like me, I’m not a big fan of flavored drinks in general (unless you’re pouring me a mock-mule or mojito). So I like BioPure Matrix Electrolyte Powder because it’s an unflavored option that I truly can’t detect in my water or smoothies. It’s a very simple brand with only the electrolytes provided: phosphorus, potassium, magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, sodium, bicarbonate, and calcium silicate. This is a more expensive option, but is likely due to its ingredient simplicity. You can find a tub of BioPure on Amazon for $45.

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