Fluid Dynamics

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What substance does your body need more than any other before workouts? If you guessed whey, you know your sports nutrition, but there’s something you’re forgetting: water. Without adequate hydration, you simply won’t perform as well in the weight room, and you won’t get nearly as much benefit from that whey you’re taking, either. Here’s what you need to do to get the most from your workouts.

• Drink 16 8-ounce servings of fluid per day if you’re male and 11 if you’re female. That doesn’t mean you need that many cups of water per day — some of that fluid will come from food (with fruits and veggies being particularly waterlogged).

• To pinpoint precisely how much water you lose per workout, weigh yourself immediately before and immediately after. You can lose anywhere from ½ to 2 liters of fluid per hour of training, depending on how much you sweat and what the temperature is at the gym.

• In the two hours before you hit the gym, sip water or another beverage, then drink at least 15 to 20 ounces of water within 30 minutes of starting a workout. (Yes, your protein shake counts.)

• Bring a protein shake, sports drink or water bottle to the gym and sip it throughout your workout. Aim to get 5 to 10 ounces of fluid for every 15 minutes of exercise.

• After your workout, do a little math: Drink a quart of water or other fluid for every 2 pounds you lost.

• Consider electrolytes, the charged elements, primarily sodium and potassium, that are lost through sweat. Most people get an adequate supply from food, but if you’re a profuse sweater or are planning a rigorous training session or some endurance cardio, particularly in the hot sun, consider replenishing with a sports drink or other electrolyte-boasting supplement.