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Being hydrated is probaly the most important part of getting your nutrition right and a perfect way to start making a difference. Getting your hydration right helps you exercise more effectively, recover quicker and also helps with fat loss and muscle building. Often peoplethink they are hungry when they are actually thirsty.

The amount of fluid you lose when you exercise depends upon how hard and how long you are exercising; the temperature and humidity of your surroundings; and your individual body chemistry, age, gender, body weight and size, your fitness levels and how much you sweat! The average person loses about 1 litre of fluid during one hour’s exercise. The easiest way to tell if you are dehydrated is if your urine is dark coloured. Your urine should be dilute and pale coloured.

Water in the body is not just water but also contains electrolytes (which are salts dissolved in the body’s fluids).

Dehydration is excessive loss of fluid, symptoms include sluggishness, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite, feeling hot, lightheaded and nauseous.

It is dangerous to drink too much water (hyponatremia) symptoms include: muscle weakness; and incoordination; disorientation and eventually seizures and coma.

Hydration should generally be guided by your thirst first.

· If you are exercising less than 30 minutes you should drink water

· Low to moderate intensity exercise of over an hour requires only water

· High intensity exercise of less than an hour requires either a hypotonic or isotonic sports drink

· High intensity exercise lasting more than an hour requires a hypotonic or isotonic sports drink

Before exercise: make sure you are hydrated by drinking 5-7 mls per kg of body weight (2-3ml per lb). For example a 55kg (121 lb) person would require 275ml – 385 ml and for an 80kg (176 lb) person would be 400 ml – 560 ml.

During exercise: replace fluid lost from sweating, to provide a source of energy and aim to replace about 80% of losses

After exercise: One hour or more of exercise will probably result in dehydration, have a drink ready for after exercise, and consume both carbohydrate and sodium which are more effective than plain water.

High intensity exercise of less than an hour e.g. circuit training and weight training will require a drink containing 8g sugar/100ml rather than water to benefit performance. Longer than an hour you will require rapid fluid and fuel replacement to avoid glycogen depletion, low blood sugar, dehydration and fatigue. If you are training for longer periods seek professional advice e.g. Marathons

Non-exercising days

Drink approximately 1.5-2 litres of fluid as you will probably be getting at least 0.5 litres from your food.

Make your own sports drinks:

Hypotonic (low carbohydrate and electrolyte) absorbed faster than plain water

250ml orange/apple juice

750 ml water

¼ tsp salt

Isotonic (ideal combination between refuelling and rehydration) absorbed faster than or as fast as water

500 ml orange/apple juice

500ml water

¼ tsp salt

Hypertonicsuch as cola and ready to drink soft drinks are more concentrated so they take longer to be absorbed by the body

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