Drink to Hydrate

Our second feature with our new partner, Athlete's Performance, API's Performance Nutritionist, Sarah Snyder talks hydration

By:  Sarah Snyder, MS, RD, CSCS, USAW

Performance Nutritionist, Athletes' Performance

Athletes' Performance (www.athletesperformance.com) is a training center for elite athletes.  Athletes' Performance integrates mindset, nutrition, movement and recovery into their programs to decrease injury potential, enhance performance, and create sustainable systems of success.


As a football player, your need for fluids are increased as you sweat more and experience water loss during practices and games.  Staying hydrated is also one of the easiest ways to improve performance.  Losing just 2% of your body weight from sweating during games or practice can decrease performance by 25%.  So, if you weigh 200 pounds and lose 4 pounds during practice, you will not perform optimally.  Also, your brain is 80%water, so dehydration will lead to impaired focus and reaction time.


Why is hydration important?

The body is 60-65% water which performs numerous vital functions including: 

·         Providing life and shape to every cell

·         Delivery of fuel to muscles 

·         Lubrication and cushioning of joints

·         Aiding in muscle contraction & tone

·         Aiding in metabolism and digestion

·         Brain function

·         Shock absorption for the spine and brain

·         Regulating temperature


The Downfalls of Dehydration

Dehydration = Decreased Performance. Dehydration of muscle of 3% can cause about 10% loss of strength and 8% loss of speed.  Serious dehydration begins with reduced endurance, progresses to reduced strength, then heat cramps, heat exhaustion and then coma.  Avoid all of these pitfalls by drinking water all throughout the day.


Dehydration also impairs:


¦Concentration and focus




¦Reaction time


¦Stamina and endurance



The question isn't should you drink, but rather what and how much should you drink? 


What are your fluid needs?

Your fluid needs differ, in amount and composition, during the different stages of your day.  Activity level and environment are the major variables dictating these needs.  Let's break your hydration needs into two categories:     

Baseline Hydration Needs-

To maintain daily hydration levels, strive to consume ½-1oz fluid per pound per day or at least 3 Liters per day!

Let's use a 200 pound athlete as an example:

Low End- __200__ (Body weight, lbs)  X  0.5oz =  100 oz / 8oz =  12.5 cups / day or 5 20oz bottles/day

High End-__200___(Body weight, lbs)  X  1.0oz =  200oz / 8oz = 25 cups / day or 10 20oz bottles/day


Calculate your baseline hydration needs:

Low End- ______ (Body weight, lbs)  X  0.5oz =  ____oz / 8oz = ___cups / day or ­­___   20oz bottles/day

High End-______(Body weight, lbs)  X  1.0oz =  ____oz / 8oz = ____cups / day or ­­___   20oz bottles/day


What should you drink?


·         Water

·         Naturally low or non caloric beverages such as green or black tea

·         If water boars you add a propel stick or citrus fruits/frozen berries. 


·         Soda

·         Fruit flavored beverages

·         Sweet coffee and tea drinks; they can pack a calorie punch! 


·         Drink 100% fruit juice in moderation, whole fruit is always a better choice.

·         Sports drinks are intended for SPORT!  Your intake of these beverages should be limited to periods before, during, and after intense activity.  There is a time and place for Gatorade and other sports drinks.   Consume sports drinks during workouts or practices especially those that are over an hour and in intense heat and humid conditions.  Gatorade can replace water during training to assist in weight gain, help to prevent muscle cramping due to the sodium content, and help to keep the body fueled with carbohydrates.  A complete sports drink will have ~14g of carbs and 110mg of sodium per 8 oz.

Below is a table that compares the amount of carbohydrates and sodium per serving of each beverage:



Calories Per

Serving (8 oz)






per bottle



3 g

35 mg


Original Gatorade





Gatorade Endurance Formula





Smart Water










Vitamin Water











Training/Playing Hydration Needs – Drink by the Clock



1-2 hours before

17-20 oz of fluid

Immediately Before

7-10 oz of water or Gatorade

Every 15 min or As Play Allows


7-10 oz or 4-6 gulps of water or Sports Drink

** If it is very HOT or HUMID, drink sports drink more often***

Post exercise

16-24 oz for every pound lost





Monitor your hydration status

How can you tell if you are dehydrated? Check the color of your urine –the closer to clear the better. The color of apple juice and darker is an indicator of dehydration.  Also, weigh yourself in and out of practice and games.  For every pound that you lose make sure to drink 16 to 24 oz of fluid.  For two a days – make sure that you are back to your starting weight before the second session.  You want to maintain your weight during your session – no significant weight loss and no significant weight gain.  All weight lost during a game or session is water.  Not replacing that water will cause a decrease in your performance a put you at a high risk of heat illness.



Bottom Line

Stay hydrated with water as your primary beverage and Gatorade for anything physically demanding.  Carry around a water bottle and take advantage of water breaks during half time or time outs.  Strive to meet your hydration goal by aiming to drink half you body weight in ounces as a minimum and your full body weight in ounces as your max.  Keep optimal performance with optimal hydration!

Here is a LINK to API's website

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