Hydration plays a very important role in recovery but there are so many factors that can be considered to determine what and how much you drink. How quickly you need to rehydrate also depends on a number of factors including how much fluid you have lost and when your next training session or competition is.
Why is rehydrating important?
If large amounts of fluid are lost during exercise it can lead to dehydration which can have a big impact on performance. Fatigue can set in earlier, decreased concentration and decision making, feeling dizzy, tired and fatigued. The more dehydrated you become, the less you will feel like drinking. It is essential to begin the next training session or competition fully hydrated otherwise we can see impacts on performance.
How much should I drink?
As a general rule we want to replace the fluid lost during exercise. How quickly we replace these fluids depends on when your next training session or competition is. We want to ensure you begin the next training session or competition well hydrated.
One simple way to know how much fluid you have lost during a training session or competition is using your weight. Weighing yourself before and after training sessions will tell you how much fluid you have lost during your session.
1 kg body weight loss= 1.5L of fluid to replace
This can mean your fluid requirements post exercise could be quite high.
What should I drink?
The type of food you drink will depend on your goals. If you are only using fluid to rehydrate after a session then water or an electrolyte drink is a good option. Sports drinks can also be used if you are needing to replace additional carbohydrates after exercise. As they can contain large amounts of carbohydrates they are not always necessary and water or electrolyte drinks can be sufficient depending on your goals. However, if you are not going to eat straight after a session and want to use fluid to aid in overall recovery including carbohydrates and protein then this is also an option. Many people don’t like to consume solid food too close to completing exercise so fluids can be a great alternative to ensure we still tick the recovery goals. Dairy based fluids such as smoothies and flavoured milk are a great way to replace fluid, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein all at the same time. Protein powders can be added to a fruit smoothie with some honey or regular drinks such as Rokeby Farms Smoothies or even an Up and Go can be sufficient.
A sports dietitian can help you with an individualised hydration plan to aid in your recovery.
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