Hydration in Sports Performance

Did you ever wonder what the NFL pro athletes used to hydrate? Especially during pre-season and earlier games when the danger of heat exposure can be an added threat to an already dangerous game. Why is Hydration in Sports Performance so important? 

Hydration & Fluid Replacement are critical for Performance & Sports Nutrition because Fluids are needed To:

  • Recover from physical exertion
  • Repair Cells
  • Regulate the body’s temperature
  • Restore minerals lost by sweating.  
  • Prevent Cramping
  • Replace electrolytes 
  • Generate energy
  • Contract Muscles

In recent studies, dehydration reached dangerous levels shortly after young athletes were done the practice. In fact, 89% of the young football players were dehydrated shortly after practice at training camp state.

Best Drink for Hydration Besides Water


There is a whole science in Hydration and sports performance. NFL, NBA, Baseball, or Soccer, recommended water intake for endurance athletes seems to be very complicated. There are ways to stay hydrated without drinking water for professional athletes. The goals no matter the sport all the same, by preventing dehydration, players can improve overall endurance and performance during their sport-specific skill. The question is.

What is the best drink to hydrate yourself with Water or a Sports Drink? If you ask Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, He will tell you it’s water. In fact, he drinks 14 to 37 glasses of water a day.

Experts will tell you that, it’s way too much and even dangerous. NBA legend Lebron James is well known for suffering from forms of leg cramping for most of his career due to dehydration. He uses Powerade sports drink one of the many sports drinks on the market.

He has also gone old school trying pickle juice as the Philadelphia Eagles did under Coach Andy Reid. Most athletes in sports will agree that certain sports drinks will hydrate faster than water. They contain the added ingredients needed to prevent dehydration.  Staying Hydrated is a subject that athletes are pretty knowledgeable about. This is because of the growing science of Hydration in Sports Performance.

Water is of major importance to all living things; in some organisms, up to 90% of their body weight comes from water. Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. Dehydration is the process of body water loss and is often described in terms of changes in body mass during acute exercise.

*The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for adults say that during exercise, “athletes should start drinking early and at regular intervals in an attempt to consume fluids at a rate sufficient to replace all the water lost through sweating.” They also say that “addition of proper amounts of carbohydrates and/or electrolytes to a fluid replacement solution is recommended for exercise events” lasting longer than one hour.

This would be the case for college-level, professional athletes and endurance athletes. In 1965, researchers at the University of Florida began testing a beverage that combined water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes on members of the Florida Gators football team to see if it could prevent cramping and dehydration caused by hot weather and physical exertion.

The drink they developed, which eventually became known as Gatorade, is credited with helping the team improve its endurance and go from a 7-4 record in 1965 to 9-2 and an Orange Bowl championship two years later.

According to the Web site of the company that now manufactures it, Gatorade proved so successful that it quickly became a fixture on the sidelines of the National Football League, as well as many other college and professional sports.

Sports drinks generally contain water with electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, and potassium along with carbohydrates. There are some negatives with them but the benefit of sports drinks over water is replacing electrolytes you lose when you sweat. Besides the job of quenching your thirst, they replace these elements needed by your body.

Electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, are critical in allowing cells to generate energy and maintain body function. They generate electricity, contract muscles, move water and fluids within the body, and participate in myriad other activities that are necessary for health.

But do sports drinks really help prevent dehydration, or would athletes and exercise enthusiasts do just as well as drinking water?

The answer, according to a report presented to the Texas Medical Association House of Delegates in April, is, “It depends.” For rehydration after routine exercise, plenty of water works just fine, the TMA Council on Scientific Affairs report concluded. But for extended periods of exercise or exertion, sports drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes to help prevent dehydration and restore important minerals lost through perspiration, the council said. For long-term strenuous activity, there are some data that would suggest that sports drinks may be beneficial,” said former Council on Scientific Affairs Chair Michael E. Speer, MD, the report’s lead author.

Sweat Rate Calculator



How to Maximize Performance Hydration is now taught throughout an athlete’s career, from High School through College. It’s not about using the best hydration drink besides water, Gatorade or Powerade. It’s more than that. It’s the new Science of Hydration and fluid replacement that athletes depend on for performance.

The Sweat Rate Chart is used as a scientific formula along with proactive tools used by coaches, trainers, and moms and dads to increase performance and avoid another tragedy in football or soccer.

Hyperhydration Symptoms


Researchers surveyed the head athletic trainers of all 32 NFL teams regarding their use of pregame hyperhydration with IV fluids.

Hyperhydration means giving “extra” intravenous fluids in excess of the body’s normal fluid balance in the hope of gaining some competitive advantage. All teams responded to the survey. The researchers were surprised to learn that 24 of the 32 teams administered IV fluids as part of a hyperhydration strategy. The average number of players receiving IV fluids was five to seven, with a high of 20 per team. On average, players were given 1.5 liters of fluid 2½ hours before games.

When the trainers were asked to identify all reasons for giving pre-game IV fluids, the most common response was the prevention of muscle cramps—cited by 23 of the 24 responses.

However, when asked to indicate the primary reason for IV administration, the most common response 10 of 24 responses were a player request.
Of 27 trainers who had ever used pre-game hyperhydration, 48 percent reported some type of complication—most commonly blood clots (thromboses) of the surface veins.

Less frequent but potentially serious complications included air in the bloodstream (air embolism), an accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), and swelling of the limbs (peripheral edema).


Signs and symptoms of dehydration
  • Headache
  • Inability to focus
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Excessive fatigue


Sports Hydration Drink


Sports drinks are made to replenish carbs along with electrolytes magnesium, calcium, and sodium. Some sports drinks have more than others. Learn about electrolyte drinks comparison and how to replace electrolytes naturally with lemons, coconut water, green vegetables, nuts, and bananas. Also, the fact that some bottled water contains added electrolytes like Aquafina, Dasani, and Evian.

Smartwater comes from municipal water sources. The water is purified through distillation, and it also contains added electrolytes such as calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium bicarbonate. The pH of this water, when tested, was 6.7. Both Vitamin water and smart water contain electrolytes and are a good source of hydration.

Check the Gatorade ingredients list. Gatorade vs Powerade electrolyte drink comparisons and the difference between Isotonic drink benefits (high in carbs) and Hypertonic sports drinks (higher levels of sugar and carbs) to meet your own requirements for shorter or longer workouts. You can add the benefits of either one to fit your particular needs.


16 Cups of Water a Day

  • Stay Hydrated and increase fluid intake (from Web MD) continually, before, during, and after working out, especially in hot weather months.
  • As for other sources of food hydration, many fruits and other foods contain water. Amazingly, meat contains a high percentage of water as much as 60%. Some good alternative sources of water include fruits. At least five cups of fruits and vegetables per day for optimum health, as they all contain various levels of water and the all-important nutrient potassium.
  • For long hikes, when you’ll need food, dried fruit, and nut mixtures contain high amounts of potassium, sodium, protein, carbs, and calories — though continue to drink plenty of water.
  • Monitor fluid loss by checking the color of your urine. It should be pale yellow and not dark yellow, too smelly or cloudy.
  • To determine your individualized need for fluid replacement: During heavy exercise, weigh yourself immediately before and after exercise. If you see an immediate loss of weight, you’ve lost valuable water. Drink 3 cups of fluid for every pound lost; use this figure to determine the amount of water (or sports drink) you’ll need to drink before and during your next exercise session to prevent weight/water loss in the future.

Weekend athletes and everyone that works out, remember the symptoms of dehydration, and that proper hydration for athletes young, old, small, and big is essential. Good sports nutrition includes being properly hydrated for the health of your human body.

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JimGalloway/Author Editor



Related Question:

Does water help the immune system? Water helps to carry oxygen to your body cells. It also works in removing toxins from the body, so drinking more of it could help prevent toxins from building up and having a negative impact on your immune system.

What happens when you drink water on an empty stomach?  Having water on an empty stomach helps in cleansing of the colon, which in turn increases the efficiency of the intestine to absorb nutrients. It also helps in flushing out toxins from your body

How many glasses of water should I drink in a day?  Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon. This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember.



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