The Foods & Nutrition Corner is brought to you on a monthly basis by students in Waukee High School's APEX program. In consultation with registered dietitians from Fareway, students research a variety of nutrition topics focused on improving the well-being of student-athletes. We'll also share a new recipe every month related to the primary topic discussed.
This month's Foods & Nutrition Corner written by Emma Clayton, Waukee APEX Associate
Hydration for Athletes
Staying hydrated is important for all people but especially important for athletes. When you are properly hydrated there are many health benefits. When you get dehydrated there are very dangerous risks. So why is it so important that athletes stay hydrated?
First we need to understand what happens to our bodies when we workout. When we exercise our core body temperature rises and we sweat. Our bodies sweat in an attempt to cool us off and lower our body temperature back to normal. With sweat we lose water and electrolytes. Losing too much of this leads to dehydration and can be very dangerous.
As an athlete, staying hydrated is a huge step to performing at your highest level. Staying on top of your hydration will give you more energy as you practice and play. Those who are properly hydrated will have sharper recovery and agility which is very important in almost every sport. Your mind and memory is also much better when you have plenty of water and electrolytes in your system. The smallest amount of dehydration can still dramatically impact an athletes strength, endurance, power, speed, agility, and reaction time.
Knowing the signs of dehydration is essential in order to catch and fix it as soon as possible. Muscle cramps and a light headed feeling can be symptoms of dehydration, so always pay attention at practice or during games. Also look out for headaches, nausea, dry mouth, and heartburn. Everyone is going to show different symptoms so being aware of all of them can not only help you, but you can also help out a teammate.
In order to stay hydrated we need to have enough water and electrolytes in our bodies. It is impossible to give just one amount of water for all athletes. Everyone needs a different amount and that depends on the athletes size, workout intensity, and conditions. A good baseline to start at is ½ - 1 ounce of water per pound of your body weight per day. For example an athlete weighing 130 pounds should drink between 65-130 ounces of water everyday. Getting into the habit of drinking plenty of water before a workout can be very beneficial. While practicing or competing, drink some water at least every 15-20 minutes. Sports drinks are a good idea as well, especially when exercising for more than one hour, during intense workouts, in extreme heat, and for heavy sweaters. These drinks will provide you with more electrolytes and allow you to perform better at a higher rate.
The IGHSAU Foods & Nutrition Corner is created by high school students in Waukee High School's APEX program. The IGHSAU is thankful for its partnership with Waukee APEX to create meaningful content to share with our member schools, student-athletes, coaches, and fans. To learn more about Waukee APEX, click here.