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Dehydration and Performance

Dehydration and Performance

Do you remember the last time you went for a run or bike ride in the middle of the summer? What about the last time you played a couple games of pickup basketball, two rounds of golf, or went on a long hike? Think about how your body felt towards the end of these athletic endeavors. You were likely fatigued, sweating like crazy, and lacked any motivation to continue exerting yourself. Everything felt harder. Why? You were dehydrated.

During physical activity, it is not uncommon for athletes to lose 6-10% of their body weight in sweat. For a 200 pound male, that could be upwards of 20 pounds! Losing this much weight  from water during a game, however, will not make you faster. In fact, dehydration as little as 2% of body weight, has been shown to cause decrements in performance. Endurance decreases, mental energy wanes, and reaction time suffers.(2)

 

The problem occurs because our natural thirst signaling mechanism is temporarily muted during physical activity.(4) Consequently, we become hypo-hydrated (lacking adequate water intake). Our thermoregulation is then altered, which means we begin to overheat. The body simply doesn’t have enough fluid to cool us down. Muscles stop working efficiently because the water and electrolytes needed to catalyze contractions are absent. This is the reason behind cramping. Lastly, our blood becomes thicker, slowing down, and reducing the ability of our heart to get much needed blood flow to working muscles. If left to go on too long, this state could progress into more serious situations like hyperthermia and heat stroke.(3)

You are probably thinking that you can get away with just pounding gallons of water after physical exertion. Wrong! Literature suggests that voluntary fluid intake after exercise is not adequate to offset fluid deficits.(1) This can lead the body persisting in a dehydrated state for up to two hours! Also, too much water can cause a state called hyponatremia, where your electrolyte balance is too diluted.(2) These electrolytes are very important because they are the nutrients needed to catalyze reactions necessary for muscular contractions, heart beats, breathing, and digestion. Pretty important body functions, don’t you think?

This is why I recommend going into exercise in a well hydrated state with the right amount of key nutrients and electrolytes. Prior to any athletic endeavor, drop a PepPod into 16 ounces of water. This will keep your body firing with all cylinders and improve your performance. After exercise, drop another pod to help replenish the water, electrolytes, and nutrients lost through sweat.

This life is about experiences. Drop a pod. Rule your world.

Resources:

  1. Murray B. Hydration and physical performance. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007;26:542S–548S.
  2. Nicolaidis S. Physiology of thirst. In: Arnaud MJ, editor. Hydration Throughout Life. Montrouge: John Libbey Eurotext; 1998. p. 247.
  3. Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, Hydration and Health. Nutrition reviews. 2010;68(8):439-458.
  4. Sawka MN, Noakes TD. Does dehydration impair exercise performance? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39:1209–1217