Listening to sports this morning I heard that Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay had to leave the mound early, overcome by the oppressive Midwest heat. The Phillies ended up losing the game to the Cubs. The radio show host Mike Golic, in a previous life a football player, mentioned that players needed to start hydrating the day before. This is all true in handling the heat however in my experience it is essential to not only get enough water but also to get enough electrolytes.
Back in my high school days when I was a wrestler we had salt pills in the coaches’ office to help offset our loss of sodium due to our workout. However when we sweat we lose not only sodium but also potassium, chloride, magnesium and calcium. Sweat rates vary from usually .3 to 2.4 L/hour or ½ pound to 5 pounds per hour. If you weight yourself before and after exercise you can see how many fluids you are losing during your workout. Each pound lost represents about 2 cups of fluid. That way you know how much you need to hydrate for your workout. People who lose a lot of electrolytes usually have cramps in either the muscles or abdomen. If you notice any of these types of symptoms you need to use an electrolyte replacement drink.
When it comes to rehydration what I like to use when available is coconut water. When working out or skiing I try to drink a large glass of coconut water before exercise. Coconut water is a natural electrolyte replacement drink and I find it to work the best for recovery. In emergency situations coconut water has even been used intravenously so it does a good job of rehydration.
Emergen-C makes a sports drink replacement packet called Electro Mix for those of you looking for an easy to take alternative. However the Electro Mix has no sodium which is ok for many people as they have too high a sodium intake already. However if you are looking for a portable option that you can use in your sports bottle that has sodium take a look at Nuun. They have a great selection of reasonably priced electrolyte tablets that you use by dropping in your water. They have a variety of flavors and the product cost about 5 dollars for 16 tablets. Compare that price to 16 sports drinks and you can save a lot of money and have a healthy low calorie sports drink.
What I find to work the best is to try and keep your fluid levels up the day before but use an electrolyte drink like coconut water so your electrolytes are normal before exercise. Nuun works great as a drink while working out as you can just drop one tablet in your water bottle before your workout. Nuun Hydrate travels easy to where you are going.
And these days when it is so hot and humid if you are outside it is important to keep hydrate while in the sun. Coconut water or Nuun are great options for sipping during the day hot days.