Spring Clean your Hydration Routine

By: Jan Dowell, MS, RD, CSSD

Your fluid intake can make a big impact in your fitness training and performance. Take a look at your fluid routine as it relates to your safety, weight, and health.

Drink for Safety
Drinking fluids is a key factor in preventing heat illness. Water is adequate for workouts under an hour in normal temperature and humidity conditions. Switch to a sports drink for workouts over an hour, if the conditions outside or in the gym are warm and humid, and if you are a heavy sweater. Limit caffeine intake to fewer than two cups per day. Take caution with energy drinks as they contain many unknown stimulants that could impact hydration and blood pressure.

Think your Drink Calories
Too many calories can cause weight gain, and liquid calories add up quickly. Use water and Propel-type drinks for shorter workouts instead of full strength sports drinks. Cut back on fruit juice and drink vegetable juice instead. Drink lower fat milk. Downsize your smoothies and shakes unless they are taking place of a meal. Cut back on the cream, sugar and toppings in and on specialty coffee drinks. Men keep alcohol servings to two or fewer per day. Women keep alcohol servings to one or none per day. Drink more flavored decaf tea.

Drink to your Health
Junk fluids (soda or overuse of sports drinks) take space without adding nutrients you need to train, perform and recover. Ideally drink two to three cups of milk (milk, soy or rice) daily, drink tea for the antioxidant benefits and remember that you also get fluids from fresh fruit and vegetables. Be careful not to overuse vitamin-enhanced drinks, some of which are high sugar and are not complete substitutes for a daily intake of fresh, whole foods.

Jan Dowell, MS, RD, CSSD is a Board Certified Sports Dietitian and a runner. Get more nutrition and hydration training tips from Jan at www.everyday-sports-nutrition-for-women.com.