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The Telltale Signs of Dehydration

We all know hydration is key to athletic performance, but getting the right amount of fluid is not an easy task. Plus, every day can be different depending on external factors like weather, altitude, and required output as well as biological factors like age, weight, and diet. When our bodies are low on water, however, they give us warning signs.

So, how do you know if you’re drinking enough during training and events? Performance Nutrition Coach Ken Hoover helps us identify some indicators, gives us tips for staying on course with our intake, and lets us know when to use Honey Stinger's Rapid Hydration Mixes.

Signs of dehydration can be difficult to recognize because they present like many other common ailments such as headache and fatigue. But dehydration can be a serious problem with potentially punishing consequences, and by the time signs are outwardly visible, you’re already experiencing negative effects.

For youth and young adults, an easy way to check is by looking at your skin. When your body is well hydrated, your skin seems tighter. If you pinch the skin on your arm, it should quickly bounce back into shape. Because skin tends to lose elasticity with age, this is not the most accurate test for those of us who are older.

Thirst is a clear indicator that your body needs fluid: once you’re thirsty, you’re already late. For all sports, the rule of thumb is to consume often and before you think you need to. Some people who are dehydrated experience a decrease in heart rate. They may feel lightheaded, dizzy, or weak. If you wear a heart rate monitor, you can see this change. If you don’t wear a heart rate monitor, practice paying attention to your breathing.

Muscle cramps are another sign that you need more water. Without the right balance of fluid and sodium (an electrolyte), muscles can involuntarily contract. When more severe dehydration sets in, more significant side effects appear, including vision issues, lethargy, and confusion (or foggy thinking).

While every athlete is different, a good reference is to drink 400-800 milliliters of water per hour. If you have trouble remembering when you last drank, create an intake schedule. For variety, mix in flavor and electrolytes using Honey Stinger's Rapid Hydration Mixes. Each mix is designed for one of the three stages of the athletic experience: prepare, perform, and recover. This model can help you stay healthy and performance ready. Learn more ways to increase your fluid intake here.
 

The best advice for everyone at all levels of play, exertion, and endurance is not to let yourself get depleted. Dehydration can negatively affect your performance and set your body up for injuries that sideline you for the long-term. Hydration should be your friend in sports and competition (as well as your least expensive insurance policy) so you’re healthy, strong, flexible, and on course to accomplish your goals!

Stay hydrated, stay well!

 

 

Content provided by Ken Hoover, Performance Nutrition Coach and Program Designer. Ken has over 30 years of Nutrition Coaching with a focus on evidence based, proven, and compliant based programs using functional food. With a range of experience coaching and educating individuals, families, teams, schools, and school districts, Ken is an expert on all things nutrition.