Sports and Nutrition-The Winning Connection
Keeping Fluid Levels Up

Restricting Water: A Deadly Practice

There is an old misconception that is dying hard. It is similar to the hard-line "no pain: no gain" training philosophy that we now know is also false.

Many coaches and athletes once believed that restricting water during a competition or practice session toughened an athlete--that somehow athletes needed less water. Unfortunately, some people still follow this practice that lowers performance and is downright dangerous. Without enough water to cool itself, the body can overheat to dangerous levels.

Conditioned athletes need more water--not less. The conditioned athlete is able to store and burn more energy in a shorter time. That means your body releases more heat, requires more cooling, loses more water, and needs more water to replenish its stores. Also, you may have increased your sweating response, which means you lose even more water. As an in-shape athlete, you need more water than other people.

When you feel exhausted and hot during a workout or game, drinking large amounts of water very rapidly may cause discomfort or stomach cramps. But that is not a good reason to restrict water. Drinking moderate amounts at frequent intervals is the best strategy during competition or practice. About one cup (six to eight ounces) of cool water every 15 to 20 minutes during an activity is about right for most athletes. Some athletes can drink a bit more than this at each interval. Cool water (40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit) is best. Cool water helps absorb body heat. And it empties from the stomach into the intestine at a fast rate, which allows it to be absorbed rapidly into the body.

Next: Weighing In, Weighing Out, and Drinking the Difference



Sports and Nutrition—The Winning Connection

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