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Hydration Tips for Athletes (Part 1)

Hydration Tips for Athletes (Part 1)

Staying properly hydrated is crucial for athletes to perform at their best. Dehydration can lead to a decline in physical and cognitive performance, as well as an increased risk of heat-related illnesses. However, hydration is not one-size fits all! 

Why is hydration important for athletes?

Proper hydration is vital for athletes as it affects their overall performance, endurance, and recovery. Water is involved in numerous physiological processes and plays a key role in regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients, and removing waste products.

How does dehydration affect sports performance?

Dehydration has a significant impact on sports performance. When the body loses more fluids than it takes in, dehydration occurs, leading to various physiological changes that can hinder athletic performance. Hydration levels can impact different aspects of sports performance, such as:

  • Endurance: during prolonged exercise, dehydration can impair an athlete's endurance levels, leading to premature fatigue and reduced performance. Maintaining optimal hydration during training and competition can significantly improve endurance.
  • Strength and Power: dehydration can reduce muscle strength and power output, limiting an athlete's ability to perform at their peak. Properly hydrated muscles can contract efficiently and generate more force.
  • Speed and Agility: hydration plays a role in neuromuscular coordination, impacting an athlete's speed, agility, and reaction time. Being adequately hydrated supports quick and precise movements on the field or court.
  • Focus and Mental Performance: dehydration can negatively affect cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making. Athletes who are well-hydrated can stay focused and make better choices during high-pressure situations.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine's position stand on exercise and fluid replacement, even a 2% decrease in body mass due to dehydration can lead to noticeable decrements in endurance performance. Additionally, dehydration also increases perceived exertion leading to early fatigue as well as an increased risk of heat-related illness (ie. heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Physical signs of dehydration

Some physical signs of dehydration to look out for:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Poor concentration
  • Increased heart rate

How much water do athletes need?

The water intake requirements for athletes vary depending on factors such as body weight, activity level, climate, and individual sweat rate and composition (ex. Some people are “salty sweaters.”) The general guideline is to drink at least 8 to 10 cups (64 to 80 ounces) of water per day, but athletes may need more to compensate for fluid loss during exercise.

Sports Nutrition at our sister clinic, the Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre 

Proper hydration is essential for athletes to perform at their best and maintain their overall health. It’s important to develop good hydration habits going into the season to help you get the most out of your training.  To learn more on how to monitor your hydration level, and general hydration guidelines for athletes, check back next week for part 2 of our blog!

Are you looking for nutrition tips to help with sport performance? Let's discuss how they can assist. Request a consultation today.

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