Since the body is made up of mostly water, sweat is the tool it uses to cool itself down. For athletes, sweating is a regular occurrence and requires plenty of replenishment of lost water to stop the body from overheating. A well-hydrated athlete will perform better and avoid the dangers associated with dehydration.
Dehydration is caused due to the lack of adequate drinking water. Signs of dehydration include a lack of energy, headaches, dizziness, and disorientation. In severe cases, dehydration can lead to death.
The ideal way to hydrate the body is to replenish water as it is being lost. For the average person, 8 to 10 glasses of water a day will fulfill hydration requirements. Athletes however, have a tendency to lose a great deal of water during training sessions and should drink enough water to match the fluid they have lost.
An easy way to determine if the right amount of water has been replaced after exercise is to weigh yourself before training and after. The athlete should drink at least 3 cups of fluid for every pound lost during training. Another way to make sure enough fluid is consumed is to check the color of urine. If the color of urine is dark, it is an indication the body is not getting the fluid it needs. If it is a pale yellow and urination occurs at least 4 times a day, then it would appear as though the body is well-hydrated.
When it comes to hydration, it is important to remember that not all fluids are considered equal. Drinks containing caffeine are diuretics and work against hydration and alcohol heats up the body and also has the opposite effect of hydration. Ideal fluids for hydration are water, juices, and sports drinks. Sports drinks are good for an athlete because they may replenish sodium lost while sweating as well as electrolytes.