Your summertime training shouldn't suffer through the hot summer months. How do you help your body get the most out of your training while staying hydrated?
First of all, it's important to understand the way the body's cooling mechanisms work. As you begin your activity, your heart rate rises and the working of your muscles and organs create heat. In order for your body to disperse the heat, capillaries below the skin start bringing blood flow to the skin's surface. Heat immediately starts radiating from the skin, and also from the air that's exhaled. However, the most effective cooling mechanism is sweating, which happens as moisture condenses on the skin's surface.
The moisture is then evaporated from the skin, allowing the heat to go with it. Though an inactive person will sweat out less than a liter of fluid a day, an active person can lose up to 2 liters of water a day. In addition, the sweat lost contains electrolytes and other minerals that need to be replaced to keep the body functioning properly.
In extreme heat situations, the body will work harder to cool itself off, and end up burning more calories to do so. Here are some nutritional tips that can help you keep your body working well during your mid-summer hot workouts:
Water ReplacementIf you're losing water, it's important to replace it. One way you can see how much water you're losing, is to weigh yourself pre and post workout. The weight difference will be from water lost. Generally, if you lost more than one pound in that workout, you're probably headed towards dehydration. One recommendation is that for every pound you lose, you should replace it with a half a liter of water.
Use More Than Just WaterIf you're exercising for more than one hour, you will need to replace much more than water. You will need to replace electrolytes (otherwise known as salts), carbohydrates (otherwise known as glucose). Many sports drinks include electrolytes and carbs, so they are easy to find.
Electrolytes are important because these minerals keep your muscles working properly. Muscular contractions work on a sodium-potassium relationship, and these minerals are part of the electrolytes lost, thus stressing the importance of their replacement. Remember, your heart is a muscle too. You need to replace carbs and protein to keep your energy system working properly so your body won't start eating your muscle for energy.
More: Electrolytes 101