When Dr. Blanca Lizaola founded SOS Rehydrate with her husband, James Mayo, they opted to base their formula for rehydrating athletes on the tried and true oral rehydration therapy (ORT) standard utilized in her native Mexico and in most countries around the world. With a high-electrolyte, low-sugar mixture, SOS Rehydrate has become the gold standard for optimizing athlete water absorption.
As you might imagine, Blanca has devoted herself to helping athletes remain healthy and hydrated, and if you get the opportunity to talk to her about water’s role in the human body, here are five things you would learn about the importance of staying hydrated.
1. Dehydration reduces athletic performance almost instantly.
Fatigue is a regular part of competing in most sports; athletes spend hours strengthening their muscular and cardiovascular systems to endure the rigors of competition under the most strenuous circumstances. Unfortunately, Blanca explains how failing to hydrate properly on the day of a game, match, tournament or other sports event places a series of limitations on the body that will prevent it from reaching its full potential.
“Your body is 75 percent water, and athletes begin to feel the effects of dehydration after only a two percent loss of water,” Blanca said. “When you exert your muscles, obviously they get tired, but if you’re hydrated you can last longer, and your recovery will be faster. If you are properly hydrated, you can delay the onset of fatigue.”
2. Dehydration will mess with your mind.
We’ve already established how dehydration can wreak havoc on your body. Well, your brain actually has a higher water percentage than the rest of your body, so it should come as no surprise that dehydration doesn’t do your brain any favors. Athlete’s brains are their most important resource, and Blanca identifies a number of ways that failing to hydrate can limit the brain’s effectiveness.
“Our brain is 85 percent water, with only a two percent loss of your body's total water, your brain would not work at its best,” Blanca said. “You get headaches, you get confused, and you don’t have the same mental clarity you had when you were properly hydrated. The headache caused by dehydration is directly related to brain activity, and a headache is usually the first sign of dehydration, but a lot of people just take painkillers for it. Instead, they need to be drinking water.”
3. Everyone sweats differently.
Just like everyone has different fingerprints, they also have different rates at which water leaves their bodies in the form of sweat during exercise or everyday activity. Blanca says that understanding your sweat rate, and also recognizing the amount of salt you are losing during exercise, is important if you want to properly rehydrate yourself since you’ll have to replace both water and salt in order to function at your best.
“Some people sweat more than others, and some people sweat more salt than others,” Blanca explained. “You can taste the salt in your sweat, you can feel the salt stinging your eyes when you sweat into them, or you can see white coloration on your clothing after your clothes dry up. People should weigh themselves before and after each workout and they should try to replenish 1.5 times what they lost in water weight.”
4. Dehydration causes cramping.
If you don’t believe cramping can be debilitating to an athlete, just ask Lebron James. Cramps can be caused by a variety of reasons, but dehydration is one of its most common causes. Thankfully, as Blanca explains, cramping due to dehydration is also highly preventable if you take the right steps to avoid it.
“A lot of people think cramping occurs simply because we don’t have enough potassium,” Blanca pointed out. “You cramp because your muscles are not contracting correctly. Muscles contract through a shift of electrolytes (mainly Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium) from one space to another, and the way you get those electrolytes to your muscles is through your blood, and if you are dehydrated, you can’t get enough blood into those muscles. That’s when you start cramping. If you hydrate properly, you’re not going to cramp.”
5. Rehydration with sugar causes bloating.
Juices, sodas and sports drinks may sounds like acceptable, or even ideal solutions for slaking an athlete’s thirst. However, as Blanca is quick to point out, the sugar in those beverages actually interacts with the body in a way that not only stalls hydration, but also causes bloating and other discomfort.
“The process of working out decreases the water absorption rate all on its own, and the presence of sugar decreases the water absorption even further, which results in increased bloating,” Blanca explained. “The presence of sugar can lead to problems like osmotic diarrhea, which is caused by the sugar pulling water from your body into your bowels. Also, if you are not absorbing it, the water you drink can cause burping.”
The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event(s) that welcome athletes regardless of age or ability level. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living.