Drink water: it’s clear as for athletes

It is well known that good hydration practices are good for our health.  But something that is often overlooked is the performance benefits associated with an appropriately structured hydration plan.

Fluid loss impacts performance

Sweating during exercise leads to fluid loss. We can measure fluid losses by changes in body weight before and after exercise. A fluid loss in excess of 2% body mass (e.g. a 1.5kg weight loss for a 75kg individual) begins to negatively impact our performance.  The good news is that if we make fluid replacement a key priority during training and competition we can prevent these negative effects.

Hydration effects

The effects of hydration on the human body


1.   Drink regularly throughout the day by including water with all meals and snacks to ensure you arrive to training/competition well hydrated.  Your muscles are 75% water. If they are not hydrated, they won’t work properly.

2.   Drink small amounts of water regularly during exercise to avoid dehydration.  Water is the best fluid choice for sporting performance during low intensity and short duration sports.  Sports drinks should be reserved for prolonged (>+60 min), high intensity exercise to assist fluid, fuel and electrolyte delivery.  An Accredited Sports Dietitian can provide individualised advice to ensure safe and appropriate use

3.   Consume water with foods containing carbohydrate and protein after exercise to assist in re-hydration and recovery.

Drinks other than water.

The carbohydrate (sugar) content of soft drinks, energy drinks and juice is too high to be effective for use in sport. This high concentration slows the emptying time from the gut and can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort.

Sports drinks are formulated to provide fuel and replenish fluid and electrolyte levels. Unfortunately these are often misused as they are typically suited to high intensity exercise lasting an hour or longer.