Welcome to the first post in our Sports Nutrition Education Basics Series!
Today is all about How to Hydrate Like The Pros 💦.
Hydration is first in the series because the first rule of performance nutrition is:
☝️ If you aren't hydrating correctly, nothing else in your fueling strategy matters. That's because hydration is essential for every other physiological process and for athletes it's the absolute most critical component of sports nutrition.
Which is why we're going to talk all about how to implement proper hydration for short, medium and long training sessions.
Now, when I say "proper hydration" that really means electrolytes – not just plain water. I realize there are a lot of choices, so here's how I decide what hydration to use each day:
- How long is my workout?
- How hard am I going to be going?
- How much am I sweating?
Shorter Workouts (Under 30 to 75 minutes)
When here, you just want the basics. If you're also trying to burn calories (lose weight), then go with SOS Hydration or Nuun Sport. Both are very low calorie (less than 15 calories per bottle). If you aren't worried about calories then go with Skratch Sport Hydration (new Strawberry Lemonade flavor is great).
If your short workout is a hard one or you're doing an indoor ride, then consider making your first bottle caffeinated with Nuun Sport + Caffeine and start sipping it 30 minutes prior to your workout.
If you're sweating more than normal, which means you're inside or outside and it's above 80 degrees, then aim for at least 26 oz of hydration in the first hour. I always start with two 21 oz bottles and drink some pre-workout and finish the rest post-workout to start my rehydration.
The 2 Hour Workout (75 minutes to 120 minutes)
This is the sweet spot workout for many people. It's also the trickiest to plan for as your hydration plan is much more tied to the intensity of the workout.
If your pace is what you would consider easy to a fast endurance pace, then you can stick with the hydration plan of a shorter workout for the full two hours. Personally, I'm mostly trying to burn calories (i.e. lose weight) on these workouts, so I stick with SOS or Nuun Sport. Occasionally, I'll mix it up with one of these low-calorie options in one bottle and Skratch or Untapped Lemon MapleAid in the other.
If your pace is faster than an endurance pace, then you need to up your game with Maurten 160. Maurten is going to be higher calories (at 160 calories per bottle), but the extra power it will give you during your workout will probably result in burning off all those extra calories and then some.
Maurten 160 is the perfect training drink for these types of workouts, but be sure that if you use it, you have both bottles filled with Maurten 160 so you have a full bottle in your first hour and another for your second hour. Sip Maurten (don't gulp) every 10 to 15 minutes to keep your energy intake consistent and even throughout your workout.
Long Workouts (more than 2.5 hours)
On longer workouts, I like to think of one bottle as an "energy" source (i.e. Maurten 160 or 320 or Nuun's Podium Endurance ) and your other bottle as your hydration source (i.e. Skratch, Untapped, or the new Spring Electroride).
That's not to say that Maurten isn't also hydration... it is, but this is just a simpler way to think about it. I like to alternate between sips from my "energy" bottle and from my "hydration" bottle. Every 10 to 15 minutes sip from one then the other.
If you are really going for a long workout (4+ hours), and calories aren't a concern go with Maurten 320 in both bottles for maximum energy throughout your workout. But remember, that you will probably need to stop to get more hydration along the way. Take a pack of Maurten in your pocket to add to you refill bottles along the way.
And there you have it!
Dial-in your hydration for your next 3 workouts and you'll immediately see a difference in how much stronger you are at the end of your workouts and how much easier you'll recover the next day.