High-intensity Athletes

The higher the intensity level of a sport, the more energy your body is using, the more heat your body is producing, and the more water an athlete must consume to maintain hydration.

Despite the intensity level of a sport, the NATA has issued a position statement with the minimum recommendations for hydration and fluid replacement. Those recommendations can be found here.

The loss of fluid during exercise primarily results from sweating7. The intensity and duration of your activity are what determines the amount of metabolic heat production of the body and thus the amount an athlete sweats. So, an athlete that exercises at a high intensity for longer duration needs more fluids to maintain their hydration level and prevent dehydration.

It is also important to ensure that the amount of fluid intake is not causing any type of gastric distress as this will be detrimental to the athlete and their performance7.

Athletes should consider an individual hydration plan that accounts for all fluid and sodium loss in order to maximize hydration, recovery, and performance8.

So, besides being a little thirsty, why should I be worried about being dehydrated? The answer is simple. Dehydration begins to have negative impacts on performance as early as 2% dehydration. Muscle strength begins to decline at 5% dehydration2. Muscle endurance is negatively impacted at 3% dehydration2. Maximal aerobic power is negatively impacted at 3% dehydration and these detriments can be exaggerated in hot environments2.

It is important to note that there is no universal hydration plan, and that hydration and fluid replacement plans must be specific to every individual athlete8. What may work for one athlete will not work for another.

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