Athletes should be especially cautious to stay well-hydrated. While water is essential, it is also imperative to replace lost electrolytes. Consuming sports drinks such as Powerade and Gatorade is one way of doing this. High energy drinks such as Red Bull and Rockstar, however, are not recommended as a safe way to replenish electrolytes and hydrate the body.
Generally speaking, the most important thing is that the athlete stays well-hydrated while not getting too much sugar intake. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
- The athlete should drink plenty of water before athletic participation. Experts recommend 17-20 fl oz of water or a sports drink be consumed 2 to 3 hours before activity.
- Experts recommend 7-10 fl oz every ten to twenty minutes during activity. Those who sweat more should consume more;
- Cool beverages are best (50-59 degrees F).
- Sports drinks containing high amounts of caffeine should be avoided.
- Sports drinks containing high amounts of carbohydrate are most beneficial for an athlete if consumed 2-3 hours prior to activity;
- Sports drinks containing fructose should be avoided entirely. Fructose can lead to gastric distress.
- Sports Drinks, fruit juices, carbohydrate gels, sodas and other beverages containing more than 8% carbohydrate concentration are not recommended as the sole source of fluid during exercise.
- Recognize signs of dehydration: thirst, irritability, general discomfort, followed by headache, weakness, dizziness, cramps, chills, vomiting, nausea, heat sensations, and decreased performance.
- A moderate amount of sodium chloride in fluid-replacement beverages can be beneficial in offsetting electrolyte imbalances that result from loss of sweat.
- Athletes are encouraged to drink 16-32 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during activity.