Summer is the time of year that brings out the athlete in all of us. Whether it is training for a 5K or getting in shape for the beach, the warm weather presents some challenges. Most importantly, the heat leads to more sweating necessitating greater attention to hydration.
H2O: What to Know
The most important ergogenic aid for any athlete is water. When you lose 2% or more of your body weight through sweating, exercise performance can become significantly impaired. It is a good practice to weigh yourself before and after warm-weather training to get an estimate of how much water you have lost through sweat. You should consume 3 cups of water for every pound lost during exercise in order to adequately rehydrate yourself.
Drink Before You Get Thirsty
Sweat rates depend on numerous factors, including clothing, ambient temperature, humidity and exercise intensity, just to name a few. The rate can range from 0.5 to 2.0 L per hour. By drinking matching amounts of fluid in the form of cold water or a glucose-electrolyte sports drink, you can avoid becoming dehydrated during exercise. It is important not to let thirst be your guide as to when to drink. The mechanisms for producing the sensation of being thirsty are delayed in comparison to your actual total body water.
Eating for Endurance
If you are into endurance activities such as running, cycling and swimming, adding carbohydrates to your pre-, intra- and post-workout meals will help you maintain glycogen stores in your muscle. Glycogen is how your muscles store glucose for fueling your workouts. By consuming adequate carbohydrates and replenishing your water after your training, you prepare your body for future workouts.
Recover with Protein
It is very important to remember the importance of protein in recovery from any exercise, whether it be endurance training, resistance training or any combination of the two. Without adequate protein intake, your muscles lack the building blocks and stimulus for repair and growth. A negative “nitrogen balance” where protein intake is insufficient can result in a failure to adequately recover from exercise, therefore increasing the risk of overtraining syndrome.
Be Prepared … Nutritionally Speaking
The summer can be a really busy time and it is important to have adequate nutrients available to maximize your summer training. It is very easy to stop for some Italian ice or ice cream on your way home from the gym, the movies or a day at the park. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in moderation, the temptation becomes greater when you are nutrient deficient and hungry because you missed a meal. Rather than reaching for fast food and sweets, try carrying meal replacement drinks or ready-to-drink protein shakes. Adding some whey protein isolate to your glucose-electrolyte sports drink is an excellent way to make a meal replacement that will help with your muscle recovery.
Listen to Your Body
The key to getting through summer training is recovery. This means adequate nutrition, hydration and rest. If you spend all of your Saturday out in the sun playing sports and then stay up most of the night throwing back brewskis, don’t expect your Sunday workout to be effective or productive. Get adequate sleep and avoid overtraining by sticking to a regular schedule of training and rest. Listen to your body when you are sore and/or fatigued and avoid injury by resting overtrained body parts. By following these suggestions, you should have a safe and productive summer!