Inspiring your health and fitness
Hydration and performance.

Hydration and performance.


The ergogenic (performance enhancing) drinks market is now big business. With the rise of drinks like Redbull, monster! and even grenade it’s pretty normal to see a busy gym floor littered with empty cans with neon lettering scattered across them. Remember this is all good marketing people… But what is really incredible is that the best ergogenic aid, that has been proven in many scientific tests over and over again has no flash packaging, is available everywhere, and is essentially, free. I’m talking about water.

The importance of hydration

Performance can be impaired when 2% or more of bodyweight is lost through sweating. So for example, if some on who weighs 90kg like me (I’m probably rounding down here guys but let me off…) loses 1.8 kgs while training performance both cognitively (thinking/concentration) and physiologically (what your body can actually do) will be reduced. It’s worth remembering here that I once dropped 2-3 kg in 20-30 minutes while skipping to cut weight for a fight. This was AFTER I’d been massively reducing my water intake the day previous. The point I’m trying to make here is that 2% can be lost very quickly and very easily in some athletes. Further more a loss of more than 4% can lead to heat illness and even in extreme cases death. Doesn’t really bode well for the World Cup in Qatar does it? But that’s another rant… Most athletes will actually sweat off approximately up to 2kg per hour depending on the humidity, temperature, level of training and their own personal sweat response. I’m definitely a sweater during training, so I’m probably higher up the average… With this in mind it’s important to monitor your hydration and keep topped up with fluids both pre, during and post exercise.

How much water?

We’ve all heard horror stories of people (usually marathoners) ‘drinking’ themselves to death through too much water consumption. This is essentially due to imbalances in electrolyte:water ratios (discussed in the next paragraph). When I tell clients to up their water intake drastically this is usually the first thing they remind me. I’ll say this though, the sheer amount of water you have to drink in order to do this is astronomical and far and above the 3-5 litres I suggest to ordinary clients. So don’t worry, you won’t be drowning just yet. The international society of sports nutrition recommends that athletes intake around 250ml of water every 5-15 minutes during exercise. They also recommend 3 cups of water for every pound lost during exercise to adequately rehydrate post workout. You can do this by weighing pre and post workout, it’s an interesting way of establishing approximately how much you lose in water weight each workout.

WOW! It’s got electrolytes! (What does that mean?…)

Electrolytes are a buzz word when selling energy drinks. But what are they? We all seem to know they’re importance but that’s where the knowledge ends. Basically in this context electrolytes maintain the balance of intra and extra cellular environments in our muscle and neurons. Electrolytes help conduct electricity which is essentially how we contract muscle. Without correct levels of electrolyte ions like sodium or potassium, our muscles struggle to produce force, and even result in cramping. Many electrolyte drinks claim to improve performance by rehydrating the body and replenishing lost electrolytes. This is essentially true, however simply by adding a little fruit juice or salt and sugar (just a pinch) you can essentially turn your water into an electrolyte drink. So save your money people…

In conclusion then it’s important you keep your body well hydrated. Not just during exercise but generally throughout the day. Dehydration even on a small scale can lead to poor cognition, reduced coordination (Olympic weightlifting anyone?) reduced muscle force (any activity / sport) and mood swings. Although electrolytes are important, it’s probably best to leave the Redbull for the Saturday night vodka drinkers. The copious amounts of sugar won’t do your body composition any good, and hopefully with a correct diet you won’t need the energy anyways. Simply have a little salt or sugar in your drink. Don’t worry, you won’t taste it.

Drink away…



Kreider et al, journal of the international society of sports nutrition ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review<e, 2010
Campbell et al journal of the international society of sports nutrition: energy drinks position stand, 2013
Lopez et al exercise and hydration: individualising hydration guidelines, 2012