Hydration is Power- Marcia Bristow- MS RDN CSSD CD
Hydration is Power
Optimizing athletic performance goes beyond what we eat. A significant contributor
to performance begins with water. Approximately 60% of body weight is water.
Every function in the body requires hydration, and this is especially true regarding
athletic efforts. If dehydrated, performance will decrease. If a person experiences
thirst, chances are they are below their optimal hydration level. Power, strength
and high intensity endurance will be limited. Unfortunately, many athletes overlook
the power of water.
Muscles require oxygen-rich blood to function and the need intensifies during
athletic efforts. When perspiration and respiration rates increase, the body loses
water and blood “thickens.” This causes “heart-stroke volume” to decrease.
Together with the heart rate, this stroke volume determines the output of blood by
the heart per minute (cardiac output.)
You are likely dehydrated if two or more of these markers are outside the normal
o Urine is dark in color
o Waking body weight is lower than normal
o Thirst is experienced
If a person starts a work out dehydrated or if body water is not rapidly replaced
o The heart cannot function as efficiently due to the increased thickness of the
o An elevated heart rate above normal responses may occur
o The delivery of oxygen-rich blood to muscles for strength, power and
endurance may drop.
o The ability to concentrate may decrease,
o Fatigue may set in sooner,
o The rate of perceived exertion may be higher
o Headaches may be experienced
o By- products of exercise may not be effectively flushed out of the body.
o Recovery may be delayed
Research suggests that a “one-size-fits-all” advice to staying hydrated is outdated.
Although it may be somewhat accurate for a person weighing 128lbs, the myth that
everyone needs to drink eight (8oz) glasses of water per day has no science behind
it. Body water losses are dynamic and dependent on the intensity of exercise
(higher metabolic rate, more sweating, more water loss); the ambient temperature
(the hotter the conditions, the greater the amount of evaporative sweat production);
and body size (bigger the mass, more evaporative sweat needed to cool the body).
These three main drivers of water loss are highly variable and differ from person to
The best way to prevent dehydration and maintain body fluid levels is to consume
fluids throughout the day with special attention given to before, during and after
workouts or competitions. Although fluid needs are very individual with no easy answer, consider these general daily guidelines:
o Try to consume approx. ½ your body weight in fluid ozs
o Upon waking in the morning drink at least 16oz of water
o Carry a water bottle at all times to increase consumption throughout the day-
make sure it is empty at the end of day!
o Drink at least 2 cups of water at all meals
o Eat your fruits and veggies as they have high water contents
o Make fruit smoothies for breakfast or a snack
o If bored with water try sparkling water and add a splash or a slice of fruit
o Consume caffeinated beverages in moderate amounts (the amount found in
approximately 3 regular cups of coffee.) Although caffeinated beverages
have a slight diuretic effect research shows ingestion of moderate amounts
does not contribute to dehydration
For optimal hydration around workouts lasting <60mins:
o Consume 16oz 1-2 hour before working out with an additional 8oz 15 mins
prior to the start of the workout.
o Keep a bottle of fluids available during the workout and drink as often as
desired, ideally every 15mins.
o Depending on the intensity of the workout an additional 16ozs should
replace fluid losses. However, be sure to consume a meal or snack soon
within 30mins to 1hr after the workout. This snack or meal should be rich in
the carbohydrates and protein used and the sodium and potassium lost
during your workout. This could also be a time to choose your favorite
recovery drink to replenish lost nutrient stores.
Look for more information in the next newsletter on sport drinks to consume to best
meet your needs before and during workouts and also during the post workout
window when our bodies adapt and recover from the stresses experienced during
the workout. .
Keep in mind proper hydration will:
o Optimize cardiac output and athletic performance.
o Improve the ability to recover quickly.
o Enhance mental function.
o Support immune defenses.
Commit to a small change today that might improve your hydration status and make
a difference in your Crossfit performance.
Contact Marcia at fuelingfitnesssvt.com, with questions or references for any
information in this article are desired.
Marcia Bristow MS RDN CSSD CD
Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics
Fueling Fitness PLC
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