Hydration is important for all rugby players and one of the key things to remember is that we might be dehydrated and not even know it, writes Dr Stavros Kavouras consulant scientist at the Gatorade Institute.
By the time we get thirsty we’re already 1-2% dehydrated, meaning our body has lost one or two kilos of fluids. Even 2% dehydration can make you feel tired while your heart beats faster, your body temperature goes up and you almost certainly underperform. You may also get symptoms like dizziness and cramping.
When we exercise we sweat, so we lose water, electrolytes and carbohydrates, which is the main energy that our body uses. So it’s important to drink fluids that will put back the water, electrolytes and energy. There are a number of things you can do to ensure you’re hydrated.
Most simply, you should monitor your urine colour when you wake in the morning. If your urine is dark, like cider, it means you’re already dehydrated, so you have to be aggressive getting liquids into your body.
At training it’s crucial to discover how much fluid you need and this can be done by weighing yourself before and after a session. You should also make a note of how much fluid you take on during training. The total amount you have sweated can then be worked out – that is the difference in your body weight plus the amount of fluid you drank.
You need to aim to be at the same weight before and after training, so make sure you drink enough fluids during the session to make this happen. One kilo equals one litre of water or a sports drink.
In you have a game or a particularly heavy training session coming up, you can start your hydration protocol the night before using sports drinks that contain electrolytes.
As a general guide, men should aim to drink about 2.5 litres of water a day and women slightly less. This should rise if you’re training or playing a game because many people will lose 2.5 litres of sweat in an hour, depending on body size – rugby players could lose more.
Dr. Kavouras says…
- Start every day well hydrated
- Check hydration via urine colour
- Don’t wait until you’re thirsty
- Weigh yourself before and after training
- Men should drink 2.5 litres a day
- Match what you sweat to what you drink
This article appeared in the July 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.
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