Yes it’s summer, so yes, we will discuss hydration again. It’s simple: a well-hydrated athlete feels better, plays better, and thinks better. And while it may seem simple and common sense that players must drink fluids, especially during the summer months, it is still the #1 pitfall in sports nutrition. Hydration is something that must be maintained on a daily basis, not just during and after play, so as with food, consistency is key!
First, let’s talk about a few “cardinal rules” of hydration:
- Drink on a schedule, NOT by thirst! – when we are thirsty, we are already anywhere between 1-3% dehydrated! Young athletes must learn to drink often and drink consistently, even on off days. On a daily basis, a young athlete should consume half of his/her body weight in ounces of water (a 150 lb athlete should drink 75 ounces of water). This does NOT account for fluid lost during exercise.
- Drink water (or coconut water) in most circumstances. If exercising strenuously for over 60 minutes, consider sports drinks in order to replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates.
- When and how much to drink? According to the American College of Sports Medicine Guidelines,
At least 16oz of water 2 hours before the event
8-16oz of water 15 minutes before the event
5-10oz every 15-20 min of exercise
Drink AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE within 15 minutes of the end of game or practice
But did you know that foods can help in providing the necessary daily amount of fluid? Here is a list, based on a recent post from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
- Cucumbers- cucumbers have the highest water content of any fruit or vegetable, at 97%!
- Iceberg lettuce- not usually considered a nutrition powerhouse, but it is 96% water. Salad anyone?
- Celery- not only does it provide folate and vitamins A, C and K, it is also 96% water
- Radishes- a great antioxidant and 95% water
- Tomatoes- tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene (more on tomatoes coming soon!), and have a water content of 95%
- Bell Peppers (red, yellow and green)- all of these contain between 92-93% water
- Cauliflower- this one surprised me! We talked before about the power of white vegetables, read more on this HERE, but did you know they’re 92% water?
Watermelon- a halftime favorite, this powerful fruit has a 92% water content.
- Spinach- not only full of fiber, potassium, and folate, but it’s 91% water.
- Berries- all berries have a pretty high water content, with strawberries having the highest water content at 91%.
So make sure your young athletes are drinking fluids, but also encourage them to eat foods with high water content to achieve their fluid goals and success on the field! (or court, or pool or in our case, the ice rink!)