Water, water everywhere but how much should you drink? Whether you’re new to running or a seasoned triathlete, hydration questions are top of mind as the weather gets warmer. Learn why staying hydrated matters for health and performance.
Water and Electrolytes 101
Water is just as essential as oxygen for your body. Your blood is mostly water, and it needs plenty of it to deliver all key substances (like oxygen, nutrients, and hormones) to and from cells. You also need water to regulate your body’s temperature.
Sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride are electrolyte minerals. To keep muscular, cardiac, nervous systems all running smoothly, an adequate supply of electrolytes is required.1
What You Lose During Exercise
When beads of sweat drop off your face, you’re not just losing water, you’re also losing electrolytes. If you’ve ever finished a race and discovered a white powder—similar to fine salt—on your skin, you’ve seen firsthand that loss of electrolytes. The amount of water and electrolytes you lose depends on the temperature, humidity, type of activity and your genetic predisposition.
Want an easy way to tell how much water (and sodium) you’re losing during an average workout? Try a sweat test. All you need is a scale.
- 1. Measure body weight before your workout
- 2. Sweat it out
- 3. Hop on a scale immediately after—with the exact same clothes that you weighed yourself in earlier (sweat and all)
- 4. Subtract weight after exercise from your weight before. If you weigh 155 pounds before and 153 pounds after, you likely lost that in water.
- 5. 16 ounces (2 cups) of water should be consumed for every pound that has been lost.2
The more you sweat during exercise, the more likely you are to become dehydrated. Low levels of hydration lead to low blood volume. When your blood volume drops, your body compromises circulation and has poor nutrient exchange, hormone balance and waste removal. With even a small change in water hydration level exercise performance is decreased.3
No matter what type of athlete you are, it’s important to stay hydrated before, during and after exercise.
Even on days you’re not working out, be sure to drink water consistently. If you have time before you exercise, try to drink at least 1 cup of water. If you’re worried about having to run to the bathroom mid-workout, you can work on drinking more in the couple hours before you head out. Sick of plain old water? Sip on some Vega Sport® Energizer or try a hydrating mocktail.
Rather than wait until you start to feel dizzy, it’s best to hydrate consistently throughout your workout. Try sipping on 1/2 cup of water every 15 minutes of exercise. Vega Sport® Hydrator contains electrolytes, as well as dietary antioxidant vitamin C.
Based on your sweat test, make sure to adequately hydrate after your workout is done. It’s best to do a sweat test several times, as it may vary depending on day as well as type of activity.
 Rolfes S, Pinna K, Whitney E. (2009) Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition. Cengage Learning. 8th ed.
2 International Olympic Committee (2010). Nutrition for Athletes. Accessed on 3/12/14 from http://www.olympic.org/documents/reports/en/en_report_833.pdf
3 Sawka. M. H. (2007) Exercise and Fluid Replacement Position Stand. American College of Sports Medicine. 39 (2). 377-390. Accessed on 3/10/14 from: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2007/02000/Exercise_and_Fluid_Replacement.22.aspx