Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hydration for runners: A guest post by Dr. Susan Kleiner!

We're tackling some serious business here at The Happy Runner: Hydration. Since I'm no expert (hydration is actually something I really need help with), I consider myself very fortunate to have an actual expert who was willing and able to write on the subject. So, today, I bring you a guest post!

Our guest poster is Dr. Susan Kleiner, president of High Performance Nutrition, an authority on eating for strength, the author of several books (including Power Eating: 3rd. edition and The Good Mood Diet: Feel Great While You Lose Weight), and the nutritionist who worked on the development of the new Solixir beverages. You can learn more about Dr. Kleiner by visiting her web site.

There are so many things to think about when you want to run well: training, flexibility, diet, rest, mental focus and fortitude. Of all the questions that I’m asked about how to improve running performance, the most frequent is, “What is the single most important thing that I should focus on to enhance my running?” That answer is pretty easy: focus on hydration.

Of all the things that affect performance, both physical and mental, hydration has the most immediate and powerful effect. Everything else follows. Staying well-hydrated is more than just drinking enough during training and competition, it’s drinking and eating well all the time, with the goal of limiting your level of dehydration at all times, and especially during a race. Once you dehydrate out on the road or trail, you won’t fully rehydrate until 24 to 48 hours after the event is over. Going into an event well-hydrated is essential, and limiting the level of dehydration during your event is the goal.

Not only is drinking important, but so is eating. Fruits and vegetables are full of water and rich in electrolytes essential for maintaining water balance, nerve conduction and muscle contraction. Diets abundant in fruits and vegetables typically contribute about 4 cups of fluid to your diet every day.

If you run long distances, don’t be afraid of having some salt in your diet. On warm days when you sweat more than usual, it’s important to have enough sodium in your system. While you don’t want to go overboard, it’s a good idea to have a moderate amount of salt in your diet on those days. If you are already eating foods high in salt like fast foods, processed foods, and lots of snack foods, then you should probably think about replacing some of those with more natural, whole foods. If you are already eating a diet that is low in processed and packaged foods, then adding some pretzels and baked chips, salting your vegetables, and drinking a regular V-8 juice can add just the right amount of sodium to keep your fluids in balance out on the trail or track.

It is particularly important to be drinking, of course. Not just around exercise, but all day long. Have a fluid plan just like you have a food plan. When you wake in the morning drink at least 2 cups of water. Throughout the day take sips from the drinking fountain or carry a water bottle with you. Adding ice to the water and using a thermal sleeve can help it stay cold for several hours.

Sports drinks are fabulous for around exercise, but they should not be the beverages that you drink all day long. You want to get your calories and electrolytes from foods that also contain all the other important nutrients you need to perform at peak levels. Sports drinks are lacking in everything except the 3 nutrients that your body directly uses during exercise: water, sugar and electrolytes. They are empty of everything else so that these nutrients can be absorbed and utilized quickly during activity. Throughout the day choose water, lowfat and nonfat milk and 100% fruit juices to round out your fluid intake and nutrition.

Fluid Replacement for Athletes—A Summary of Practical Applications from the National Athletic Trainers Association Position Statement

Before Exercise

2-3 hours before, drink 17-20 oz of water or sport drink

10-20 minutes before, drink 7-10 oz of water or sport drink.

During Exercise

Athletes benefit from drinking fluid with carbohydrate in many situations.

If exercise lasts more than 45 minutes or is intense, fluid with carbohydrate (sport drink) should be provided during the session.

A 6%-8% carbohydrate solution maintains optimal carbohydrate metabolism.

During events when a high rate of fluid intake is necessary to sustain hydration, carbohydrate composition should be kept low (less than 7%) to optimize fluid delivery.

Fluids with salt (sodium chloride) are beneficial to increasing thirst and voluntary fluid intake, as well as offsetting losses.

Cool beverages at temperatures of 10 degrees to 15 degrees C (50 degrees to 59 degrees F) are recommended.

Every 10-20 minutes, drink 7-10 oz. of water or a sport drink. Athletes should be encouraged to drink beyond their thirst.

After exercise

Within 2 hours, drink enough to replace any weight loss from exercise; approximately 20 oz. of water or sport drink per pound of weight loss.

Within 6 hours, drink an additional 25%-50% more than weight loss from exercise.

-- Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, FACN, CNS, FISSN

Thank you, Dr. Kleiner! I think my big problem is that I don't hydrate well enough before I exercise. I need to get better about drinking all day long. I don't think just drinking black coffee all morning is really cutting it!

If you have any questions about hydration, leave a comment and I will pass them along to Dr. Kleiner. And be sure to check out her web site (here)!

Drink up, everyone!

~ Felice


Mark said...

Fantastic tips! Thanks for this! Nice post!

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

Thank you!! Great post. Funny I have ALWAYS loved salty things...but since I have been running I have CRAVED salt. I remember when I was pregnant reading that my cravings were because my body was lacking in some nutrient like craving steak meant I was low on iron. Could be I am deficient in sodium in my diet. While running I dream of blue gatorade...LOL...pretty sure that means I am a bit dehydrated.

I LOVE coffee too, but having a full water bottle on my desk all day is the best way to gauge how hydrated I am..

tfh said...

Very helpful guest post-- thanks! My biggest issue is drinking 2-3 hours before my workout, since I tend to roll out of bed, drink a glass of water (and a mug of coffee) and head out the door. But otherwise I think this advice will be pretty easy to incorporate in my routine.

J said...

This is a great post! Thanks for doing this! water and hydration really is important!

Aileen said...

Great information! Thanks for the guest post...especially pertinent now that the weather is warming up.

Denise said...

Thanks!! Very informative post!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting...I struggle with hydration and this was very imformative :)

Leslie said...

Great Post!
I LOVE all the information.

Check out my Holey Giveaway if you are interested in some fabulous donuts!

kara said...

Drink 2 cups of water before I head out for my morning run - I would have to make a pottie stop along the way. Not fun!
But I will down 2 cups after : )
Thanks for sharing this info.

Lindsay said...

great tips! thanks for gathering the info and sharing. i need to apply most of these to my daily life, and now i have even more reason to!

joyRuN said...

Excellent post! I do MUCH better hydrating when I carry a water bottle around, otherwise I'm a pruned-up dehydrated mess.

Chic Runner said...

Thanks for the great post! :) What great info and I know I need to do this more. :)

Abby said...

This is great info - thanks!

My Year Without said...

I haven't done much research on the subject, but I would be curious to know if there is a sports drink that is sugar-free, though isn't the point of sugar to provide a burst of energy?

I run but do not touch sports drinks. I drink water. I don't trust the rise and fall of blood sugar that happens when we ingest sugar.

Any thoughts for a sugar-free runner?


Unknown said...

thx for sharing that article!

Lara Robinson said...

Great info about the amount of hydration needed after hard exercise. I am notorious for NOT hydrating completely before or after. I'll have to incorporate sports drinks into my repetoire as well, as I've never done that. Awesome post, thanks!!

Felice Devine said...

My Year Without -- The Solixir beverages that Dr. Kleiner worked on are made without sugar. Check them out!

Anonymous said...

Great information. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information with us!

Melanie Tait said...

HI Felice - I just discovered your blog through Mel Tall Mom Who Runs. I can't wait to spend some time exploring.

Thanks for that great post on the importance of fruit and veg to get our hydration. So helpful!

Erica said...

Thanks for posting this great information. :)

Oz Runner said...

great post...

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