Guest post by Dr. Lorraine Williams, chiropractor turned TrackMom.
One of the biggest challenges for parents, athletes and their coaches is determining how much water an athlete needs at different times in their day and training.
If the athlete's urine is dark and scanty, it is concentrated with metabolic wastes and the athlete needs to drink more fluids. When the urine is pale yellow, your body has returned to its normal water balance. Your urine may be dark if you are taking vitamin supplements; in that case, volume is a better indicator than color.
All athletes must drink water before, during, and after exercise. Follow the basic guidelines below to be sure that a child is drinking enough water throughout an exercise session.
- Before Exercise: Drink 10 to 14 oz. of cold water 1 to 2 hours before the activity. Drink 3-6 oz.of cold water or diluted fruit juice 15 to 20 minutes before the activity.
- During Exercise: Drink 3 to 4 oz. of cold water every 15 minutes.
- After Exercise: Drink 2 cups (16 oz.) of cold water for every pound of weight loss. With no weight loss still drink the minimum of 8oz of water.
You must watch and see how much water a young athlete actually drinks. Supervision is essential because children do not instinctively drink enough fluid to replace body water losses. Children may not recognize the symptoms of heat strain, and they may push themselves to the point of heat injury. Young athletes can use non HFCS sports drinks, especially during activities lasting lore than 90 minutes (such as Football or Soccer). These drinks should contain between 6 and 8 percent carbohydrate or 15 to 18 grams of carbohydrate per cup.
Other tips include:
- If products labeled “sports drinks” do not meet these guidelines, they may need to be diluted. Water is adequate for most children. However, some youth athletes are more likely to drink sufficient amounts if you give them flavored fluid; sports drinks or diluted fruit juice are appropriate choices.
- Be sure to dilute fruit juice at least twofold: 1 cup of water for every 1 cup of juice. Tell children not to drink carbonated sodas or undiluted fruit juice as a fluid source during exercise. These beverages are too rich in carbohydrate (which can cause stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea).
- Caffeinated beverages (such as tea, coffee, and cola beverages) will dehydrate the body even more.
- Athletes can also replace their body fluids with foods containing a lot of water, such as oranges, watermelon, apples, grapes, and tomatoes, along with water. These foods provide water and carbohydrate, and they are good for replacing lost water and lost energy (glycogen) after exercise.