Beating the Heat Means Plenty of Hydration

As the weather warms up, paying attention to your athlete's hydration is essential. Did know that even just a two-percent drop in the level of hydration in the body can equate to a 10-percent decrease in athletic performance?

Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian with the Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine Center, says that the key is not to over-drink, but rather drink smart and stay ahead of the game as far as hydration. She offers the following tips to create a hydration game plan to keep your athlete's body flush with the fluids it needs:

Pre-Game

  • 4 hours before: Drink 16-20 oz. of fluid, such as one bottle of water or a sports drink, in addition to regular fluid consumption.
  • 2 hours before: 7-12 oz. of water or sports drink
  • 10 minutes before: 5-10 oz. of water or sports drink
  • Consider snacking on some salty foods, such as pretzels, tomato juice, pickles, soups, etc.

Game Time

  • Everyone sweats differently, but a general guideline is that players should drink 5-10 ounces every 15-20 minutes.
  • After one hour of exercise, make sure players consume a sports drink to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes — if it's extremely hot or humid, stick with sports drinks over water during the game.

Post-Game

  • Drink 16-24 oz. of fluid for every pound lost during exercise.
  • If players are needing rapid rehydration due to multiple matches, two-a-day practices, etc., consume at least 24 oz. for every pound lost.
  • Snack on more salty foods to help retain fluids and stimulate thirst.

Goodson says that hot and humid weather conditions call for more sports drinks.

"Sports drinks, such as Gatorade®, provide carbohydrates during exercise that our bodies need for energy and maintenance of blood sugar levels," she said. "They also provide electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride that aid in hydration. Parents should choose sports drinks for their athletes that are 14-17 grams of carbohydrates per every eight ounces, which is optimal for athletic performance during training."

Stay hydrated -- and have a great game!