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The Young Athlete's Guide to Maximizing Athletic Performance Through Proper Nutrition and Exercise
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An Easy, Natural Way to Boost Your Athletic Performance

An Easy, Natural Way to Boost Your Athletic Performance

What's cheap, refreshing, and good for you? It's the diamond of all nutrients. It's the king of all life. It's water. It takes a loss of only 1% - 2% of your body's ideal water content to cause dehydration. And dehydration will affect your athletic performance. In this post, I'll cover what dehydration is and how to avoid it. I'll also tell you about a secret, natural sports drink that's ideal for the young athlete, so stay tuned.

What is dehydration?

After waking up your body is crying out for water, it is in a state of dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the body sweats out more fluid than it takes in. One of the first physiological responses is the thickening of blood, which creates more work for the heart. Thick blood is like trying to pass mashed potatoes though a funnel; on the other hand,  thin blood is like pouring water down the same funnel. The added stress placed on the heart significantly decreases endurance.

What is overhydration?

Overhydration, on the other hand, is when the body takes in more water then it can process, and is a phenomenon quite common to athletes. Gulping large amounts of water overloads the bodies ability to absorb and utilize it. Taking small sips at regular intervals instead will allow for better absorption. Remember, the average person loses 90 ounces of water daily, which needs to be replaced.

Can I drink too much water?

Hyponatremia is the point at which the body becomes overly hydrated. Too much water can flush minerals, known as electrolytes, from the body. These minerals help regulate the smooth and efficient contractions of muscles, and when the bodies electrolyte levels become too low, cramping, muscle spasms, and other signs comparable to dehydration occur. Not fun. If you run a marathon without replenishing properly, or if you ingest a super-human amount of water in a really short period of time, for example–then crazy things can happen to your fluid balance. You can lose too much fluid, become dehydrated and pass out from low blood pressure... Your heartbeat could become irregular… you could overload your cells and cause them to burst... Lots of NOT fun things that can potentially land you in the emergency room.

Optimal hydration

Don't make the mistakes many other athletes have made by drinking large amounts of water in the days prior to an important competition. Instead, consume only a moderate amount of water, sipping it throughout the day, and no coffee, no energy drinks, no caffeinated teas, and no chocolate, sorry. Avoid caffeinated foods and drinks, since caffeine is a diuretic. It'll suck the water right out of you. Limit high protein foods prior to an event, since water is used during the digestive process. Fresh fruit is the best option. For optimal hydration, think of replacing dry, cooked, and processed foods with fresh fruits and vegetables. Most people who eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables don't need to consume as much water, as those on a standard diet. In fact, some drink no water at all. The shift to more raw foods will certainly help maintain hydration, and will probably improve health overall. Fruits and vegetables are all made of water, it's like eating water.

How can I tell if I'm properly hydrated?

Pancake Syrup
Photo by jspatchwork
Easy. Check your pee! What color is it? Yellow? Clear? In between? What's the consistency like? Thick? Watery? If you can read through your pee, you're hydrated. If your pee looks like the maple syrup you put on your pancakes, you're not hydrated, get some water in your system! Being hydrated will definitely increase your performance and make you feel better. And it's as easy as drinking some water every 20 minutes or every few minutes during high-intensity sports. It's like breathing, you have to do it or you'll die.

What about commercial sport drinks?

Commercial sports drinks were created to battle electrolyte depletion, but unfortunately, most drinks on the market are high in refined sugars along with artificial flavoring and color. Eating a bowl of sugar is almost the same. That's nasty! In fact overly sugary sports drinks, or carbonated drinks in general, can increase thirst.

The natural sports drink

Young coconut water (not to be confused with coconut MILK) is probably your best option for a sports drink. It's packed with electrolytes and tastes great chilled. In fact, one cup-full of coconut water contains way more electrolytes than most sports drinks and more potassium than a banana. Coconut water also has way more minerals and vitamins and less than half the sugar when compared to a popular sports drink. Compare the nutrition facts yourself here.

Nitrous for athletes?

I know some extreme people will want to take it a step further. I use Vega Sport Performance Optimizer. Vega Sport is packed with electrolytes, loaded with nutrients, and full of super foods. It's some amazing stuff. Check it out on my site in the products section (coming soon). It's exactly what the extreme athlete needs in their pre- and post-game replenishment arsenal. Photo by darkpatator

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