The Hydration Needs of an Athlete

Athletes, usually experience a great deal of sweating. Sweat is how the body cools itself. If you are dehydrated, your body is trying to sweat and cannot due to a lack of water. This can lead to heat exhaustion and heat cramps can occur.

Heat cramps are muscular cramps that are very painful and last for one to three minutes. Athletes must avoid dehydration at all costs. It is recommended that for every pound lost during exercise due to sweating three cups of water be consumed to replace the fluids.

The Sports Drink Dilemma

Should you drink a sports drink such as Gatorade, Powerade, or All Sport when training? These drinks provide sugar and sodium replacements that are said to increase performance. For exercise that is less than sixty minutes in duration, you should replace the fluid lost from sweat with water. Carbohydrate and electrolyte stores are not usually depleted in this length of time. Anything beyond sixty minutes, carbohydrate and electrolyte replacement does become important and these drinks may be helpful.


Many athletes make the mistake of loading up their bodies with sugars before competing, but this is one of the worst things that you could do. Try to avoid sports drinks in the hours preceding an activity. Water consumption is the best method for preactivity or preventative hydration. While sports drinks are often very effective in reducing dehydration, you should drink them during or after hard work or long exercise sessions, but not before.

Marketing protein powders and protein bars to atheletes is another current trend. By eating a variety of foods, such as beans, milk, beef, or fish, throughout the day it is very easy to reach the recommended amount of protein needed per day. Remember, your body can absorb and assimilate only so much protein at one time. When your protein intake exceeds the amount the body needs per day, the excess protein is stored in your body as either fat or sugars. Protein powders can offer as much as 50 grams of protein in one serving. This is half of a 180-pound man's daily needs, without any other food, and most men double the portion size thinking that more protein will make more muscle. If there is any growth in one's physique, it is probably from an increase in body fat rather than an increase in muscle tissue.

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