What proper hydration routine should I have for my young athlete?

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Answered by: Betsy, An Expert in the Family Life Category
Light-headedness, fatigue, and flushed skin are all signs of dehydration, but what most athletes, coaches, and parents overlook are the dangerous consequences involved in the lack of proper hydration. But don’t grab your water bottle yet. Water, although essential in an athlete’s diet, may not be the liquid-spinach needed to ignite the energy an athlete needs for hydration. There are numerous factors that compile one’s athleticism: physical skills, strength, agility, and stamina are the most common characteristics, however, what determines an athlete from a player is proper nutrition and hydration based on the body’s heart rate. Parents and coaches incessantly search for the right menu for their developing athletes, and what well-intentioned individuals overlook are the irrefutable effects of fluid regulation.The aged standard for a proper water consumption regiment is 8 of 8: however, research proves this mentality to be inconsistent, and considering diverse sizes and body mass, the old maxim has morphed into a scientific equation. Doctors and sports dietitians devised a formula to calculate a healthy and individualized level for a proper hydration routine forcing athletes to gauge their own levels of fluid consumption in order to avoid dehydration.

First, it is necessary to understand the effect of what to drink and when such consumption is crucial to an athlete’s performance. To measure, record the athlete’s weight prior to workout, and then after. The difference in weight indicates how much hydration is necessary to fit body mass. Sports dietitians advise that pre-hydration is as imperative to an optimal workout as during and after are. Although there is the rare risk of over-hydration, proper liquid fueling of the body prior to actively participating in a sport reduces the risk of becoming dehydrated during physical exertion. Of course there are a few other factors to consider when calculating hydration, such as the level of intensity, duration, and gaps in activity. Nevertheless, to effectively hydrate after high-intense conditioning, it is necessary to replenish lost fluids over the next three or more hours. This hydration timetable must also include incessant fluid intake.

Choosing how to replenish the body has been a debate among doctors, coaches, parents, and athletes. The fluid consumption spectrum naturally begins with good ol’ H2O, including some sports drinks, even beverages with caffeine; however, Fitness Magazine writer Kelly Phillips (2006) encourages the consumption of chocolate milk to be the all-encompassing rejuvenation antidote. Physiologist Joel Stager tested various replenishing drinks for high-endurance athletes, and his research confirms the benefits of chocolate milk significantly exceeds the benefits of other beverages. The reason for this delicious, thirst-quenching energy-boosting treat is its sodium and sugar, which adds and retains water and adds nutrients for rebuilding muscles.

Not only is chocolate milk a healthy restorative hydration method after intense activities, most thirsty athletes enjoy the taste. It is often challenging to hydrate young, active bodies and even more cumbersome for parents and coaches to find a healthy alternative to water. Without constant consumption of nutrient-based liquids, dehydration and fatigue will occur and be quite detrimental to an athlete’s performance. This is one reason why sports drinks are a billion industry. Per WebMD, sports drinks prove to be a relatively healthy restorative beverage because of its electrolytes, which exit the body through sweat during the workout. The increase of sugar or glucose circulates through the blood and hydrates the body. In addition, sodium contributes to one’s thirst forcing them to drink more. This is good because the more liquid in the system hydrates the body allowing the athlete to continue performing with agility and endurance. The oversight many parents don’t realize is that sports drinks are to be consumed during a workout, not casually or at resting level heart rates. Because of its caloric, sugar, and sodium levels, it is not a drink intended for leisure bodies.

A hydration schedule is a relevant conversation to have with all athletes, of course for obtaining optimal athletic performance, but more importantly for health reasons. A basic guideline to follow: pre-workout regiment should include drinking cool, refreshing, natural water. As the intensity increases and to avoid fatigue during a workout, the recipe to refuel a nutrient-depleted body is with a sports drink consisting of electrolytes and carbohydrates. Finally, after high-endurance activity, a cold glass of chocolate milk will replenish the body. Dehydration is debilitating, even potentially deadly, therefore, it is crucial to inform athletes of the symptoms, and to be proactive by planning a proper hydration routine.

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