In our new series, “Fitness Breakaway sponsored by Rocky Mountain Health Plans,” we will offer fitness and healthy living tips from the professionals on the Rapids staff. The second installment discusses the importance of hydration.
When it comes to sports in Colorado, altitude is always a concern. Because the lack of oxygen forces your body to change electrolyte levels, proper hydration becomes even more important for anyone active.
This holds especially true for athletes, even more so for those at the professional level. Colorado Rapids’ assistant athletic trainer Michael Heitkamp stresses the importance of hydration to his men both on and off the field.
“Hydration allows the body to function properly. It’s an avenue for nutrients to pass around the body. Without hydration, the muscles won’t work as well,” said Heitkamp.
When it comes to keeping hydrated, it is recommended to drink six to eight glasses (8 oz.) of water daily and stay away from natural dehydrators like caffeine.
“Water is the best hydrator, although sports drinks are good because the sodium-potassium gets everything into your system quicker. I encourage water every day and a sports drink during a workout when you’re sweating heavy or in high temperatures,” added Heitkamp.
Rapids players keep track of their hydration by weighing in before and after workouts. For every pound lost, 16 oz. of water must go back into the body to rehydrate and replace lost fluids. There are three crucial times of hydration: before, during and after workouts.
For the Rapids, pre-game hydration starts 24 hours before the match. Players slowly increase water intake until 2-3 hours before the match. During these few hours before kickoff they will consume anywhere between 15-20 oz. of water. When they reach 10-15 minutes before the match starts, players then drink another 8 oz.
“We also encourage drinking water during any time of stoppage. During a game this isn’t easy, but for anyone exercising it’s important to drink something every 10-15 minutes,” said Heitkamp.
He also recommends drinking 15-30 oz. of fluid within 30 minutes of finishing the exercise. Drinking slowly also helps the body absorb the fluids easier.
A good tip for workout recovery? Try chocolate milk.
“As a good recovery drink, we encourage a glass of chocolate milk within 30 minutes. It helps your muscles replace the nutrients you lost in exercise,” continued Heitkamp.
Because of high protein, calcium and carbohydrate levels - along with the small amounts of sugar and sodium - low-fat chocolate milk replenishes tired muscles by giving them nutrients to metabolize. Chocolate milk’s high water content also replaces lost fluids, keeping your body hydrated and ready to perform at a high-level again.