The Essential Guide to Hydration: Optimizing Performance During Exercise and Beyond
Updated: Jul 30
I’m definitely not an athlete. But I am super active and I enjoy a variety of sports, such as walking, cycling and flow rope. Since moving to the southwest Algarve, Portugal, I find I easily get dehydrated and I feel it. Especially when I work outdoors on hot sunny days. If I don’t hydrate and replenish minerals and other nutrients, my body complains the next day with aches and fatigue.
Hydration is not just about drinking water; it's about replenishing your body's fluids and electrolytes to function optimally. When you engage in sports or high-intensity activities, your body loses water through sweat, and along with it, essential electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Failing to replenish these can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, and decreased performance.
To ensure you're always operating at your best, here are a few tips to stay hydrated during sports and high-activity periods:
Before Exercise: Start hydrating well before you begin your activity. Aim to drink around 200-500ml of water two to three hours before exercise to give your body a head start.
During Activity: Sip on water or a sports drink throughout your workout or sports session. Depending on the intensity and duration, aim to drink approximately 200ml every 10-20 minutes. This will help replace the fluids lost through sweat and maintain electrolyte balance.
Electrolyte Balance: While drinking water is essential, it's also crucial to replenish the electrolytes lost during intense activities. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes can help restore these vital minerals and enhance hydration.
The Ideal Hydration Solution: When it comes to sports drinks, the water-nutrient ratio is crucial. Isotonic and slightly hypotonic solutions are often recommended. Isotonic solutions have a similar concentration of dissolved particles as our blood, allowing for faster absorption and absorption of nutrients by the body. This makes them ideal for rehydration during intense physical activity. Not all sports drinks are equal though. Many contain colouring, artificial preservatives, and flavours (an unregulated term that doesn't tell you what it is.... yes, even natural flavour is a meaningless term.) Look for one with pure ingredients. My preferred Sports Drink is RINGANA SPORT boost*. Alternatively, you can try a homemade isotonic sports drink recipe. For example a mix of coconut water, water and fresh lemon juice. Add a sweetener like date syrup or maple syrup for carbohydrates and a little sea salt for extra minerals.
Hydration Beyond Sports: Hydration isn't only crucial during sports; it's essential during any period of increased mental or physical activity. Whether you're tackling a challenging work project or engaging in intense household tasks, staying hydrated can boost focus, concentration, and overall performance.
Post-Activity Hydration and Recovery: You probably know the well-known experience of muscle aches. But this can be avoided through good hydration before, during and after your activity. A post-activity drink that contains electrolytes and carbohydrates can help you in replenishing energy stores and supporting the body's recovery process. I have had amazing results in terms of reducing post-sports muscle aches with the RINGANA SPORT boost*.
Hydration plays a central role in optimising performance and overall well-being during sports and any heightened mental or physical activity. By understanding the importance of fluid balance, electrolytes, and nutrients, you can make informed choices about the best hydrating solutions for your needs. Remember, staying properly hydrated is a simple yet powerful way to ensure you're always operating at your peak potential.
*What makes SPORT boost different from other carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions?
This is an excerpt from the RINGANA website: SPORT boost contains everything that an effective sports drink needs but without any artificial additives or flavourings. It scores with carbohydrates of varying complexity, electrolytes such as potassium from coconut water powder, chloride and sodium from sea salt, iron from Aspergillus oryzae fungus, and magnesium as citrate. In addition SPORT boost contains a lot of sport-relevant bioactive compon ents and this is what sets it apart from the competition. These components include polyphenol-rich extracts such as ViNitrox ™ apple-and-grape extract, Berryshield™ sour cherry extract, Recoverben® lemon verbena extract, L-Carnitine, BCAA from fermentation and natural Vitamin C from the acerola cherry. The fruity flavour is provided by passion fruit, sour cherry and lemon.