What Every Woman Needs to Know About Hydration
Sweating is critical to keeping your body temperature regulated, but with each drop of perspiration, you’re losing essential electrolytes and fluids that ensure your bod functions at its best. Lose too much and you may start to feel tired, dizzy, lightheaded, and achy. That’s dehydration.
Turns out, combating those fluid losses may not be a one-size-fits-all proposition. Female physiology shifts with monthly changes in oestrogen and progesterone levels, and those fluctuations have an impact on our ability to hydrate. Plus, research shows that when women drink fluids according to the standard recommendations, they may not reach peak performance – probably because many of those recommendations were developed from tests on varsity-age guys. Typical.
For instance, sodium helps transport water into the blood, but elevated progesterone levels can cause your body to excrete sodium rather than absorb it. Increases in oestrogen, on the other hand, can drain your mojo, making you feel as if you’re too sapped to push through a hill climb or sprint. And if you’re on the Pill or other hormonal birth control, the oestrogen and progesterone in your system can be as much as six to eight times higher.
So women are more likely to need more sodium – as well as potassium, which works with sodium to get water into our blood – and different sugars to properly rehydrate.
Use these guidelines to keep your workout free of bloating, diarrhoea and heat stroke.
1/ Don’t start your workout thirsty. “Try to go into an exercise session feeling hydrated,” says exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist Dr Stacy Sims.
2/ In fact, drink up the day before already. If you’re gearing up for a high-intensity or endurance-based effort, pre-hydration (filling up anywhere from a few to 24 hours before) is crucial to help increase the sodium balance in your body.
3/ Top up during your session. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 90 to 250ml (a cup) of a sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes for workouts longer than 60 minutes, but Sims says it should be based on your body weight. She suggests 10 to 12ml per kilogram of body weight per hour – the lower end for cool conditions, the upper for warmer temps. So, on a cold day, a 65kg woman should sip about 650ml per hour.
4/ Don’t forget electrolytes. According to Sims, the best hydrator during intense or lengthy sweat sessions is a solution made up of water, a small amount of sodium, and a combination of sucrose and glucose – this formula is most effective at transporting water into the blood. Glucose and sucrose are the easiest for us to digest; fructose often causes bloating because the female body has trouble metabolizing it as efficiently.
For more power and endurance – and to avoid that annoying PMS slump – use a mix that’s lower in carbs and higher in sodium than the gender-neutral recommendations. Try this: Mix one pinch iodized table salt and a dash of (real) maple syrup into your water bottle.
5/ Think of the rules as guidelines – not gospel. They’re a starting point, says Sims. “It’s personal. If you’re working out for 45 minutes or less, it’s important to drink before and after, but hydration during exercise isn’t needed unless you’re low on body water to begin with – say, at the end of the day or when you’ve first woken up.”
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com