Hydration Levels for Peak Athletic Performance

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“The human body is a wonderful machine that has an ability to adapt in order to survive.”

– Dr. Florence Constant

Why is Hydration Important During Exercise?

Since our bodies are composed of roughly 60% water we need to make sure to stay hydrated when exercising and sweating.  Some people sweat and breathe more than others.  Depending upon the type of training you can lose as much as one to two liters per hour while exercising.   Think of the specific training you do each day – strength training, cycling, running, rowing, sculling, swimming, tennis, futbol, rugby, surfing, kayaking, kiteboarding, etc. 

The water in your body plays a critical role in lubricating the joints.  Water aids in fueling your muscles, so drinking before, during and after exercise will boost your energy levels and may help prevent cramping from occur.  If you ignore the signs and symptoms of dehydration you may start to feel tired more quickly and notice your body temperature becomes unregulated.  

What Would Happen If You Didn’t Drink Water?


Hydration Before you Exercise

Hydration starts before you start exercising.  I recommend carrying a water bottle with you during the day to make sure you stay hydrated.  If you’re dehydrated before you even start exercising you will notice your core temperature increases faster and your heart will have to work harder than normal which can tax your body leading to possible heat stroke.  

Checking the color of your urine is one method to check your hydration levels throughout the day. 

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Hydration During Exercise

Keep a water bottle with you during your workout when possible.  The best way to check your hydration levels is to start to listen to your body and pay attention to what it tells you.  During exercise, drink according to your thirst sensation; no more or no less. 

  • Drinking more than 800 mL per hour is not recommended and may increase the risk for developing dilutional hyponatremia.
  • During extreme weather conditions, fluid intake and pace may
    require additional adjustment.
  • For prolonged exercise, beverages containing 6% to 8%
    carbohydrate may provide additional benefit.

Note how much you need to drink depends on several factors: 

  • Size/Weight – larger people tend to sweat more than smaller individuals 
  • Fitness Levels – fitter people tend to sweat more and sooner while working out since their bodies are use to needing to cool down
  • Environment – hot and humid conditions cause people to sweat more 
  • Exercise Intensity – increase intensity leads to increase in sweat 
  • Wind – cold dry air and wind chill can cause shivering 

Hydration After Exercise

Hydrating post training is critical to restore your fluid levels and help your muscles recover.  The sooner you start to replace the fluid, the sooner you will start the recovery process. 

  • Drink 16 to 24 oz of fluid for every pound lost.
  • Post exercise meals should include fluid intake.

Sweat Rate Calculation 

  • Weigh yourself BEFORE exercise (best if first thing in the morning)
  • Weigh yourself AFTER exercise 
  • Compare the numbers 
  • For every kilogram of body weight you lose, drink up to a liter and half of fluid

Do I Need to Drink Sports Drinks?

  • Exercising for less than one hour hydrate with water 
  • Exercising for longer than one hour play with the different sports drinks on the market to see what works best for you.  

I personally like the Nuun tablets you add to your water bottle.  You control how diluted you want to make the drink based upon your workout.  I stay away from the high sugar drinks as much as possible and if necessary will dilute them to avoid a spike in sugar levels while training.  Keep in mind you want to replace lost electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium from sweating.  

If you’re an endurance athlete training for a marathon, triathlon, ultra marathon or century ride work with a sports nutritionist to customize your nutritional needs.  

How Beverage Composition Affects Athletic Performance


Can You Drink Too Much?

Yes, you can drink too much and can develop a rare condition called hyponatraemia.  The cells in your body start to swell and dilute the salt concentration levels leading to these common symptoms: feeling confused or disoriented, difficulty balancing, headache, feeling sick or vomiting or feeling bloated.  In some cases can lead to coma, seizures and possible death.  Seek medical care immediately if your experiencing these symptoms. 

We have written more articles related to hydration for the summer months: 

These are just a few suggestions to help you live your best life.  We believe in treating the whole person with a holistic approach and blend our knowledge and training of movement, nutrition, massage therapy and traditional chinese medicine. 

We love teaching mindful movement and even during this time, we are here to support you in your journey to wellness by offering online remote training from anywhere in the world. Contact us today to get started and learn to move with less pain and greater ease. We look forward to answering your movement questions and/or concerns.

Feel free to check out our blog posts specific to pilates, pre/post natal, bone building for osteoporosis/osteopenia, mindful meditation, restorative yoga therapy, partner and endurance training.

Medical Disclaimer: You should also see your doctor and/or nutritionist if you think you may be deficient in specific nutritional vitamins. They can help determine what’s causing your symptoms and, if needed, recommend ways to balance your daily vitamin intake.


AYOTTE, J., David and CORCORAN, M.P., 2018a. Individualized hydration plans improve performance outcomes for collegiate athletes engaging in in-season training. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15 (1), pp. 27.

Fitness focus. 2012. Occupational Health, (381).

Water Science for Schools: Earth’s Water. 2018.