- Hydration is energy (for your muscles)!
Most people think that the main purpose of hydration is to help prevent dehydration and to replenish electrolyte stores that may be lost via sweat. Although both of those are true (recent studies have shown that electrolytes may play greater roles in fluids absorption than sweat replenishment), the fundamental goal of hydration is to deliver oxygen to working muscles. Try to think about hydration or the fluid you are consuming as a way of helping your muscles breathe, which in turn gives them the energy they need to perform.
- Water does not hydrate you.
Yes, you read that correctly! While water does fundamentally provide your body with fluid, it does not truly hydrate you. Water needs to be in a specific concentration (composing of carbohydrates and electrolytes) to exit the stomach and move into circulation where it can be used by the body. Our water needs to contain sodium to ensure proper fluid absorption. To make matters even more complicated, your “water” should contain different amounts of carbohydrates and electrolytes before/during/after your workout!
- Proper hydration will help mitigate gastric distress during exercise.
To put it simply, when you are exercising, your body (stomach) is under stress. There are ways you can eat and drink to mitigate that stress, or to encourage it. When it comes to hydration, if the ratio of carbohydrates to fluid is too high or the electrolyte profile is too low, the delivery of fluid slows down, and sits in the stomach. That’s what causes sloshing, and GI issues during racing.
- Hydration will help you fuel better.
This builds on the previous point. With proper hydration, you can help eliminate the GI issues that can come with it, and allow faster and more efficient fueling. this is achieved by not overloading your system, and using multiple pathways to absorb fluids and carbohydrates.
- Hydration aids in recovery.
One area that is very crucial to the recovery process is rehydrating. Rehydrating not only replenishes fluids lost during exercise, but it also aids in replenishing the electrolytes that were also lost. Keep in mind: drinking too much too fast can degrade the potential gains of the workout, here’s why: Your body over time has developed a strong immune system that helps repair itself when it is under the stresses of exercise. therefore, naturally you want your body to begin repairing itself, and slowly rehydrate, and continue to hydrate throughout the day.