All too often in endurance sports, athletes get so focused on their calorie and electrolyte intake that they forget about the most essential component, water. Proper hydration plays a critical role in delivering oxygen, hormones and nutrients to our cells. Why? Because water makes up about 50% of our blood which acts like a highway in our bodies.
Dehydration can impact your performance before any calorie deficit will. During exercise, water helps with thermal regulation (sweating) and a lot of water is lost – as high as 48oz per hour in hot weather! When you sweat, this water loss causes your blood to thicken which puts stress on your cardiovascular system. And, if you are taking in calories during this time and do not have adequate fluid balance, your GI system will start pulling water from your blood and the rest of your body to process those calories. These create an extremely low blood volume that reduces the capacity of your blood cells to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. The result? Increased heart rate, increased body temperature, decreased cardiac output, compromised mental concentration and delayed stomach emptying and GI upset. Yikes!
While it may be difficult to know exactly how much water you are losing during exercise and to properly replace all that fluid, many researchers suggest aiming for 20-24oz water per hour, to minimize the effects of dehydration and gastric distress. That is why Tailwind recommends drinking between 20-24oz of water per hour mixed with our endurance fuel to ensure that the risks of dehydration are minimized and you can have the best chance at finishing your race (or your epic climb) feeling strong and energized!