Headaches. Fatigue. Lack of alertness. These are tell-tale signs of dehydration — the excessive loss of fluids from the body. Water is the most abundant nutrient in our body. It's the primary ingredient in muscles, blood and other body cells. Without it, body processes become sluggish and inefficient. Here are hydration reminders from sports nutrition experts:
Check your urine: If it's the color of straw or lemonade, you're appropriately hydrated, say experts. Dark or apple juice-colored urine signals dehydration, or the need for more fluids.
Check your weight: Before you exercise. After you exercise. Performance suffers with as little as 2 percent loss of fluid. Restore every pound you lose during exercise with a pound or so (16 to 24 ounces) of fluid.
Drink plain water before you exercise: It's the best choice for most activities that last less than 90 minutes.
Sip on about 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of fluid after about 15 to 20 minutes of exercise. If your workout goes beyond 90 minutes, add a sports drink that contains some carbohydrates (sugar) plus electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.
Replenish energy stores and electrolytes after intense exercise. Eating or drinking foods that contain protein and carbohydrates within a half hour after vigorous exercise can store energy back into depleted muscles, say researchers. Chocolate milk, for example, has been found to have the perfect ratio of carbohydrates to protein for recovery after an activity that lasts more than an hour.
Pay attention to calcium and magnesium-rich foods. Muscle cramps can result when these minerals are low. Good sources of calcium and magnesium? Milk, yogurt, spinach, nuts and seeds, whole grain breads, cereals, crackers.
Take it easy with protein drinks. Beverages loaded with extra protein can actually increase the risk for dehydration. They are not recommended as fluid replacement drinks.
— MCT Information Services