How Much Water Should an Athlete Drink a Day? And Why?
Athletes should make sure hydration and exercise go hand in hand. That’s because proper hydration is often ignored, at least at the beginning of an athlete’s life. Not until after many bouts of dehydration or heat exhaustion do they realize the importance of it.
Don’t worry, though, as we are here to help you understand exactly how much water an athlete should drink a day.
We will also share the best times to drink fluids throughout your day in this article. Plus, how and why you should ensure sufficient hydration doesn’t slip out of your sweaty hands.
Athlete Water Intake – Why Is It Important?
- Water helps regulate body temperature.
When the body’s core temperature is higher than normal, the body is under undue stress, which can disrupt its energy systems. As a result, both performance and recovery after training suffer.
- Right intake of water facilitates the transportation of critical energy nutrients.
Our body’s fluid carries essential macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The fluid also comprises electrolytes like sodium which have several functions for runners. Additionally, water assists in the removal of metabolic waste and toxins.
- Water helps control BP.
A controlled blood pressure allows you to control your heart rate and, in turn, control the stress on your body during both training and recovery. Dehydration, on the other hand, can cause high blood pressure.
This high BP and unnecessary stress can cause issues like inflammation and an increase in free radicals in the body. These can give birth to chronic diseases like cancer and heart issues, all the while hampering your training.
That’s why drinking water is crucial. But, how much? Let’s find out!
How Much Water Should You Drink As An Athlete?
Now, water loss in athletes happens due to many reasons:
- It can be due to sweating that follows intense workouts.
- It can be due to excessive and fast breathing due to high altitudes or high-intensity workouts.
- Or due to hot temperature that causes sweating and even cold temperature that makes it difficult to notice dehydration.
We need to replace fluids lost due to all these reasons. Here’s how you can do it.
- Know how much water you need to replace, by calculating your sweat rate.
Measure yourself before a run, then run for a set amount of time, for example, an hour, and then measure yourself again afterward. The weight difference can help you figure out how much sweat you lose when running.
When you do this for a week, you can calculate the average and that will be the amount of water you need to replace.
- Focus on your thirst.
Our body’s thirst meter is an excellent way to tell us when and how much fluids we should drink. But, if you have a condition where you always feel thirsty or don’t feel thirsty enough, this may not be the right way for you.
- Listen to the experts.
Your sweat rate may probably not be enough in winters when the temperature of the body makes it difficult to understand that you are dehydrated.
Anyway, if you do high-intensity exercise for long hours, replacing fluids just after the training is not enough. You need to drink water before and during your workout, as well.
Research says an athlete should drink 500 ml before the exercise. When exercising for more than 1 hour, athletes should drink between 600 and 1200 mL/h of water. (1)
Best Time To Drink Water For An Athlete (Before, After & During Workouts)
It is crucial to maintain proper hydration before, during, and after a training session.
Sufficient hydration reduces fluid loss, keeps performance high, and lowers exercise heart rate. It also maintains plasma volume and helps prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion, along heat stroke.
How much water should an athlete drink before a game or workout?
According to 2004 research, before a session, athletes should consume about 500 mL of fluids. Any electrolyte drinks or water should be fine.
How much water to drink during a workout?
As mentioned before, during exercise, you should drink about 600 ml of water every hour if the session happens for long. That means about 200ml in every 20 minutes of the workout.
Typically, thirst does not occur much until after athletes have sweated a significant amount. So how much water you drink a day with exercise should not rely on it.
How much water should an athlete drink after a workout?
Lastly, athletes should drink three cups of water per pound lost to ensure adequate rehydration after training. (2)
How to Stay Hydrated – Here are 5 Tips
1) Drink enough water.
Now you know how much water and at what time you should be drinking water to replace fluid loss. Make sure to follow that. Besides that, drink water whenever you are thirsty to ensure proper hydration.
Also, don’t depend on energy drinks instead of water because they can make you tired.
2) Eat water-rich foods.
Not many of us have the habit of drinking enough water regularly, thanks to our busy lifestyles. One great way to incorporate water into your diet is through water-rich foods like coconut, watermelon, and milk.
Checkout: Watermelon Nutrition Facts
3) Take your water bottle to the gym.
Apart from things like gym towels, an extra pair of socks, and your earphones for motivating music, a water bottle is essential to carry to the gym. If it gets out of sight, it may get out of your mind, and you may get dehydrated soon after a workout, if not during it.
4) Drink electrolyte water.
While regular water is great, electrolyte water helps athletes get the required nutrients like sodium and potassium quickly.
So, make sure you drink at least one bottle of electrolyte water a day, if you workout intensely regularly.
5) Replace your dehydrating coffee with a hydrating tea.
If you drink coffee in excess, it might be one of the reasons behind dehydration. If you care about your athletic performance, it’s time now to replace it with a hydrating and caffeine-free tea like rose tea to ensure you drink enough fluids.
So, how much water should an athlete drink a day?
You should drink three cups of water per pound lost after training and about 500-600 ml during and before the workout.
Doing this will help you avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion, and symptoms that follow along.