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Hydration Strategies - Symptoms & Signs of Dehydration

Do you know the symptoms and warning signs of dehydration?

When was the last time you showed the symptoms and signs of dehydration? It didn't necessarily have to be the last time you were sweating more than normal. Depending on your hydration baseline, you could have had a pretty good sweat going and you still may have been adequately hydrated.

The last time you were showing the symptoms and signs of being dehydrated, you probably weren't doing much of anything. You just felt thirsty. Too late… once thirst sets in, you're already slightly dehydrated.

According to recent data, a good percentage of the general population suffers from chronic dehydration (the long-lasting depravation of adequate body fluids). As a matter of fact, on average, Americans are chronically dehydrated and consume only 4.6 servings of water per day.

Survey of 3003 Americans, Nutrition Information Center, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center (April 14, 1998).

In addition to lower physical performance levels, dehydration can cause headaches, back, joint and muscle pain and a laundry list of other ailments. When dehydration is causing problems, it retards necessary body functions like transporting nutrients and oxygen to cells, regulating body temperature, cleansing the body of waste and toxins, metabolizing stored fat, maintaining muscle tone and more.

So stick around, because I'm going to give you an easy way to calculate your daily baseline hydration needs plus some hydration myths and fast facts. Right now, you can download a Free PDF chart that will help you recognize the symptoms and warning signs of dehydration.

Free Download - Warning Signs of Dehydration


Hydration Strategies - Then and Now

Back in the day, it was common for athletes, trainers and coaches to withhold water intake as part of the mental training for endurance. Some sports that require weight classifications for competition like wrestling and boxing have also been notorious for dangerous hydration practices. Since the deaths of 3 NCAA wrestlers in 1997 and Kory Stringer, the All Pro tackle for the Minnesota Vikings and others, proper hydration has become mandatory for the safety of the athletes.

In addition to safety, it's been proven that proper hydration is important in the training and recovery of athletes as well as enhancing performance. A dehydrated athlete cannot perform at peak levels. Some studies have shown that being dehydrated by as little as 2% can drop athletic performance up to 10%. Spotting an opponent 10% less than your peak performance just isn't practical in competition.

With ongoing research, more and more data is surfacing thats shows the negative effects of dehydration on athletic performance, regardless of sport. A newly released study at Penn State University suggests the negative effect of dehydration on the performance of NBA basketball players. Click below to get the results of the study.

Download - Penn State Dehydration Study on NBA Basketball Players

Thanks to medical science and some common sense, the practice of withholding fluids are about as dated as eating a candy bar prior to competition for energy. The NCAA, the NFL and other amateur and Pro sports organizations have adopted official hydration guidelines for trainers, coaches and athletes. There's no arguing over this; stay hydrated for safety and maintaining peak levels of performance.

Standard Hydration Formula

The standard for proper hydration is to consume eight glasses of water per day. That standard formula is based on a 150 pound person. It doesn't take an individual's body weight into account. So here's an easy formula to use. Body weight divided by two is equal to the number of ounces of water per day for normal hydration levels. Of course that number would increase during exercise, excessive heat and illness.

Hydration myths and fast facts

1. During intense exercise, thirst can be a poor indicator of dehydration as your body turns off your sense of feeling thirsty.

2. Low amounts of sweat, especially during intense exercises are another poor indicator of hydration. Dehydration will lower sweat levels to conserve fluid as your body's defense to use available fluids to cool internal organs.

3. Another popular myth is that caffeine has a diuretic effect and depletes water through excessive urination. This is repeated on many websites. The problem with this myth is that it takes the equivalent of five to six cups of coffee, not the one to three cups that many claim before caffeine has a diuretic effect.

In addition, even heavy coffee drinkers build up tolerance levels to caffeine's diuretic effects. In a future article, I will show how it's been proven that in some cases, eliminating the normal consumption of caffeine from the diet of athletes who are regular coffee drinkers can actually have a dehydrating effect.

4. Another myth is that water is the best choice for rehydration. For normal to moderate physical activities this is true. But when there's excessive fluid loss during intense, extended exercise periods combined with hot temperatures, this is not only junk science, it's life threatening.

Rapid and excessive fluid replacement using water and even sport drinks can cause hyponatremia (dangerously low electrolyte levels). Hospitalized treatment for severe hydration is intravenous fluids containing electrolytes and water (Ringers Lactate), not plain water! Read this recent report from the New England Journal of Medicine on the dangers of hyponatremia.

Most sport drinks are not much better than water for severe dehydration as they only contain marginal amounts of electrolytes as a percentage of fluids consumed. During extreme conditions, monitor weight loss and fluid intake before, during and post workout. Believe it or not, the best choice for dehydration can be found in the baby formula aisle of your local food store. It's called Pedialyte.

5. Once fluid replacement begins, it takes 24 to 36 hours for your body to fully rehydrate from low hydration levels. You are not hydrated until fluids are absorbed into your body tissue.

By: Rick Contrata

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