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Sensible Sports Nutrition: Hydration and Exercise

I recently purchased Nancy Clark's sports nutrition guide book.  It is such a great book with a lot of information backed up by good research.  If you are an athlete, aspiring athlete, or just interested in how to fuel your body for all types of exercise I definitely recommend this book.

Growing up I played soccer pretty much all year round.  I love the sport and miss playing every day.  I also ran track for a little while focusing on sprinting and hurdles. I think back to how easy it was to run for hours on end during a soccer game or to get ready for a 100 yard dash compared to how much more difficult it is to get a workout in years later with jobs, kids, and all the other responsibilities in life.

A couple of months ago I started running 5K’s.  For an ex sprinter and right winger this was a long distance for me to train for.  Surprisingly, I was happy with how I ran and I absolutely loved the environment.  So I’m continuing to run and bike and recently became really courageous and signed up for a 5 miler July 2nd.  I still consider myself a fitness exerciser (exercising 30-60 minutes, four days a week), but the benefits are so rewarding as the running and biking is a stress reliever.  I’m also  noticing more muscle development in areas that have been challenged during my ‘child rearing years.’  My performance has always been dependent on hydration and the more I talk to others the more confused I get.   After reading Nancy Clark’s recommendations yesterday I thought I’d share some of her wisdom. 

First and foremost, ‘fitness exercises’ can mostly hydrate and rehydrate easily if eating regular balanced meals and drinking fluids throughout the day.  It is important to pay attention to hydration pre exercise, however, and Nancy recommends drinking 2-3 ml of fluid per pound at least four hours before exercise.  This comes out to about 10 ounces for a 120 pound person as one ounce equals about 30 ml.  If you drink a product that has sodium it may increase thirst, but it will help retain the fluid so that you do not feel the need to excrete right away.

As for during exercise, it’s recommended to know your sweat rate if you exercise for more than 3 hours.  For those of us who exercise for an hour or more at a time, it’s recommended to hydrate with 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour.  Sixteen ounces of Gatorade or Powerade  fall into this category.

Rehydrating after exercise is not an exact science but its recommended to sip fluids over time verse drinking large volumes at a once.  Rehydration also depends on when your next exercise event is, but drinking 50 percent more fluid than you lost in sweat will enhance complete recovery from dehydration.

Hydrating can come in many forms such as water, milk, orange juice, and sports drinks.  When looking at sports drinks weigh your options.  It’s suggested to choose a product that provides 13-18 grams of carbohydrate per 8 ounce that also has some sodium in it.  It’s not mandatory to have a product that has vitamins in it, because absorption does not occur as quickly as consumed. Also there is not sufficient research that proves herbs, such as ginseng, have any benefit to exercise.  Protein is also dependent on the type and time of exercise.  Protein alters taste but research does prove that protein can reduce muscle soreness post exercise.  As for caffeine, this is based on the individual. Some people benefit from caffeine and notice a jolt in energy, but some are sensitive and notice anxiety or tremors.  Be aware of the calorie intake in all drinks, especially sports drinks.  You do not want to drink all the calories you just burnt off. 

As for me, I’ll be sticking with my pre exercise regimen of water and rehydrating with my G2 Gatorade after the races (the new G2 products have less calories per serving).  Wish me luck on July 2nd!  To all the other runners out there good luck and be well.

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