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Performance nutritionist Josh Dyson on hydration and why it’s so important

Whether you are a competitive athlete, or just enjoy being in the water, it is important for health and performance to ensure that you are maintaining your hydration throughout the day.

Here, Swim England performance nutritionist, Josh Dyson, discusses the importance behind having a good hydration strategy.

When it comes to performance, dehydration can negatively impact upon both physical and mental performance, so having a hydration strategy in place is a good idea.

Fluid losses occur throughout the day via sweat loss, urine/faecal loss and respiration (breathing).

Sweat losses increase for those participating in activities, which individuals should account for within their daily fluid intake.

For an approximate gauge of hydration when inactive, one could monitor urine colour. Aiming for a pale straw coloured urine could approximately indicate a hydrated state.

Drinking water throughout the day is a great strategy to help contribute to maintaining your hydration.

There are also other fluid sources that can be incorporated within your fluid intake, such as cordial (sugar-free), fruit juice, milk options and sports drinks.

Important to be aware of over hydrating

Additionally, eating foods that are high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables, can also contribute to daily fluid intake.

As well as being aware of preventing dehydration, it is also important to be aware of over hydrating.

The consequences of over hydrating range from bloating or feeling uncomfortable during performance, to more serious health issues such as hyponatremia.

Before getting in the water, it is important to ensure that you are in a hydrated state. Consider in the two to four hours prior to commencing your activity the consumption of five to 10 millilitres (ml) of fluid per kilogram (kg) of your body mass (Thomas et al., 2016).

For example, for an individual who weighs 70kg, this would equate to 350ml to 700ml. Avoid rapidly consuming fluid, as this can increase urine losses.

Taking your drinks bottle to the pool is a good strategy to aid hydration during a training session. Sweat rates are highly individual, which makes it difficult to provide specific fluid intake recommendations.

Water is a suitable consideration for most training sessions, however, for individuals engaging in intense or prolonged training sessions, consideration can be given to utilising a carbohydrate sports drink to aid performance.

Electrolytes within fluid intake

After exercise, it is important to rehydrate and replenish fluid losses. When sweating it is not only fluid that is lost, but also electrolytes – in particular sodium, which aids fluid retention, as well as stimulating thirst.

Therefore, when rehydrating following sweat loss, it is important to consider the inclusion of electrolytes within fluid intake.

Alternatively, seasoning your food with salt can aid sodium replenishment. Avoid rapidly consuming fluid, as this can increase urine losses.

If utilising supplements within your hydration strategy, such as electrolytes or sports drinks, it is important to ensure that all products used abide by anti-doping rules and regulations.

To minimise the risk, only consider products that are accredited by Informed Sport, a global testing and certification programme for sports and nutritional supplements.

Ensure that the product and batch number are listed on the Informed Sport website before considering utilising any product.

Overall, maintaining your hydration is essential for performance, as well as your health. Remember to drink fluid regularly throughout the day, whilst ensuring you optimise your preparation, performance and recovery.