I’m often asked by friends, “what is the one nutritional tip I have for them.” My go-to answer is to hydrate better. Since 75% of us are chronically dehydrated, this is the easiest thing you can do to improve your performance as an athlete.
I’ve put together my learnings for avoiding dehydration throughout the day based on my own and other athletes’ mistakes.
1) Watch out for the calorie trap
I want to keep my calories low when I’m focused on daily hydration. CALORIES ARE GREAT when working out, but not when I’m not sweating.
It is easy to consume 80 to 150 unnecessary calories with a ready-to-drink hydration option like Gatorade, Vitamin Water, or Coconut Water. Avoid this at all costs.
I’m looking for nominal calories in a daily hydration product. This is why I like to use Thorne’s Lemon Lime Electrolytes or ERW’s Active Hydrate Mix. Both options are under 40 calories and less than 10g of sugar.
2) Don’t let your water get boring
Water itself is excellent, but sometimes it gets boring. I either go for flavored sparkling water or get extra minerals and hydration support with Nuun Vitamin Tablets.
My secret is to keep mixing up the flavors. Here are my 3 favorites:
Ginger Lemonade (with Caffeine)
3) Supercharge your hydration with caffeine
While caffeine is a diuretic, it is counter-intuitive that this is part of my dehydration avoidance strategy. But if you are like me, I’m going to be consuming caffeine regardless, so I may as well take it into account.
When I’m working out in the morning, I like to take Tailwind Nutrition Caffeinated Endurance mix, formulated with organic caffeine and a blend of dextrose and sucrose, providing you with 25 grams of quick fuel and 35mg of caffeine in 1 scoop. It is a great way to be energized, fueled, and hydrated during the morning.
4) Hydration before bed
Hydrating before bed can be tricky. If you drink too much right before bed, you will hurt your sleep cycles when you wake up to use the bathroom. I try to curtail my hydration at least 90 minutes before bed.
When you hydrate before bed, you will experience:
- Better digestion
- A reduction in leg cramping
- Setting yourself up for a better training session the next day
You want to use a pre-bed hydration that contains magnesium. Magnesium will help calm you and prevent the leg cramping / restless legs from robbing you of your deep sleep. I used a magnesium fizzy drink (that made a huge mess every time I mixed it), but now I go right for Puori’s M3 Magnesium capsules. I try to take 3 capsules with 8 oz of water about 90 minutes before bed.
5) High Altitude Hydration
Many athletes travel to altitude and have issues acclimating and staying hydrated. I have traveled to altitude more than most and have finally dialed in the winning strategy: pre-hydrate and then super hydrate when you arrive.
Try to drink lots of water before you leave, then when you arrive I immediately go for a product called The Right Stuff. NASA developed, this product allows astronauts and athletes to replenish and hydrate rapidly. VERY IMPORTANT, it looks like a Gel pack; it is not! If you suck on this pack, you won’t be happy. It is meant to be mixed with at least 16 oz of water (I often use 32 oz).
Also, note that this is 1780mg of sodium. So if your doctor said to avoid salt in your diet, this is not the product for you.
Warnings aside, this product is incredible for instant altitude adjustments. It is also terrific for hangovers.
I hope this helps you stay hydrated!