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Hydrate properly before the game.
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Ever since sports drinks first hit the market, there seems to be a never-ending evolution of beverages that have better electrolytes, more energy and offer all-around better hydration. But what about pure water, which athletes used for centuries whenever they were thirsty. Every athlete should be aware of the dangers of dehydration, but over-hydration is just as dangerous. Water should still be your primary source of liquids during a game, but drinks with electrolytes and a small amount carbohydrates, in moderation, can help you run faster, work harder and replenish your energy1.
Check your urine. Make sure it is very pale yellow. If it is any darker, you may be in the early stages of dehydration. Also check your urination frequency. A healthy person will urinate about every two to four hours. Anything significantly more or less frequently suggests you're drink either too much or too little.2.
Reach for water first, then sports drinks. Lemonade is a healthy option as well.3.
Calculate the percentage of carbohydrates in your drink, and make sure it has less than 8 percent total carbs, the recommendation for short competitions. One gram of carbohydrate contains 4 food calories, so multiply the number of carbs in your drink by 4. If that number is greater than 8 percent of the total number of calories in the drink, avoid it. For example, if your drink has 2 grams of carbs, it has 8 calories from carbohydrates. If the drink has at least 100 calories in total, it would be a decent hydration option.4.
Use slightly higher carbohydrate concentrations in competitions or games lasting longer than two hours. Aim for 8 ounces of a drink with 6 to 10 percent carbohydrate concentration every 15 to 20 minutes, or 24 to 30 grams of carbs every half hour.5.
Drink cool beverages at a temperature of at least 59 degrees Fahrenheit, which is absorbed more quickly than warmer liquids.6.
Drink 16 ounces before bed on the night before the game, 16 ounces when you wake up, 17 to 20 ounces about two hours before the game (if it isn't in the morning) and 6 to 8 ounces 15 minutes before the game.7.
Weigh yourself before and after the game. If the scale shows any difference, drink 24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost. At least 16 ounces should come from pure water. Replenish this fluid within two hours after the game.8.
Beware of over-hydration. More deaths in sports result from hyponatremia, or sodium dilution in the body, than dehydration. There are mixed beliefs as to whether the electrolytes in sports drinks prevent hyponatremia. When in doubt, trust your body. If you aren't thirsty and you feel clear-headed and energetic, and your urine is pale yellow, you are well hydrated.
- Sports drinks (optional)
- Lemonade (optional)