Hydration, Dehydration, and Overhydration

Workout of the Day--September 8, 2015

In 25 minutes, get as far as you can:
9 Burpee box jumps
9 Squat cleans (125/85)
12 Burpee box jumps
12 Squat cleans
15, 18, 21...
Rest 1 min between rounds

 
 What is boy wonder up to now?

What is boy wonder up to now?

 

Hydration, Dehydration, and Overhydration

Last week the Catacombs Endurance Team had a little rap session on nutrition for training and racing. We covered a lot of interesting ground and Scott shared some of his experiences with hydration and fueling during ultra-endurance events. One topic that came up was the subject of dehydration and overhydration. Most of us have grown up with the school of thought that avoiding dehydration requires us to consume as much water as possible. And even the idea that once our body tells us we are thirsty, we are already dehydrated and should start drinking copious amounts of water immediately. We all know that dehydration can hamper our performance, but there are definitely conflicting opinions around the other end of the spectrum especially in light of recent deaths from "drinking too much water". And what about electrolytes, sports drinks, salt tablets, etc? With all the differing viewpoints and hydration products out there, what is a well-intentioned CrossFitter to do?

After our Endurance Team meeting, I decided to do a little research. I got bogged down in the studies for a little while, but then I came across a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that basically summarized the 3rd International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference held in February of this year. Don't be scared off by the name; basically what that means is that 17 of the leading doctors and scientists in this field got together to try to come up with a consensus on this issue. Pretty cool, eh?  

You can check out the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine here. For a much lighter read, the New York times covers the findings of the conference in For Athletes, the Risk of Too Much Water. So what's the answer that all these experts came up with? That's the beauty of this whole rabbit trail that I went down. Check out this quote by Dr. Miller, one of the authors of the report:

The key, he said, is for athletes to drink when they feel thirsty — not before and not after they feel sated. “You do not need to ‘stay ahead of your thirst,’ as many people think,” he said.

Listening to your “innate thirst mechanism” provides a safe and reliable guide to hydration, the new report concludes.

So when it's all said and done, the answer to how much water to drink and when lies in listening to our body. As a side note, they also dispel the idea that muscle cramps are caused by dehydration. In fact, they cite a study where they subjected a group of athletes to exercising in heat until they became dehydrated. They were found to be no more prone to muscle cramps than they were prior to the study. Likewise, dehydration does not seem to increase the risk of heat-related illnesses in athletes as many athletes that experience heat illnesses are found to be well hydrated.

We will save the discussion on electrolytes for another day, but I will give you a little preview. It will not include endorsement for artificial sugary drinks that masquerade as electrolyte replacement beverages. Shocking, right?