Why Hydration Matters for CrossFit Athletes and How To Do it Right

July 6, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Frank Nguyen
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Hydration can seem complicated. The good news is that it’s such an easy habit to incorporate into your daily routine and something that can truly optimize your athletic performance.

To start, we have to understand how hydration works. To put it simply, a person exercises and loses fluids. This fluid loss happens via the skin from sweat or the lungs from breathing. When the person does not replenish the loss of fluids adequately and appropriately, this is when dehydration occurs.

Symptoms of dehydration:

  • Feeling tired, thirsty, dizzying, and/or light-headed
  • Dry mouth, lips, and eyes
  • Dark yellow color and/or strong smelling urine

Why does this matter for athletes?

The USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) states that “research has shown that losing as little as two percent of total bodyweight can negatively affect athletic performance.” Getting better at a sport, like CrossFit, is going to require a lot of discipline. Developing and creating healthy hydration habits is one great way to take care of one of the major things that you can control in the process.

General Recommendations:

  • Bodyweight divided by 2 = Minimum number of ounces per day
  • Add 12 oz water for every 8 oz cup of coffee, juice, or tea
  • Add 15 oz water for every 1 hour of exercise

Be sure to be realistic with yourself. If you’re someone who is consuming eight ounces of water every day, asking you to drink the eighty ounces you may need is going to feel like an overreaching task. Start small, build confidence, and create sustainability over time. Consider upping your current amount by 16-24 ounces, which is about two glasses per day for about a twelve day period and then you can slowly increase from there till you’ve reached your daily requirement. If you need further help with this, consider purchasing a new water bottle to help hold you accountable. We all appreciate a solid reason to go treat yourself.

Although most of us need to focus on just getting more water, that may not be enough based on  your training. We also need to take into account adding in electrolytes and sodium to replenish all of those fluids lost through exercise.

To give an example, eight time CrossFit Games athlete Travis Mayer consumes on average about five single servings of an electrolyte supplement per day. Some other factors that matter for this athlete include: the temperature where he trains, his body composition, his training intensity and frequency, and his medical history, and what he’s tried in the past to determine what amount is appropriate for him on a daily basis.

To help you determine what hydration supplement brands to consider, The HealthBeat has put together a “Best & Worst” list of electrolyte supplements.

But how does athletic performance suffer?

When you are not properly hydrated your blood circulation starts to decrease, the muscles at work don’t receive enough oxygen they need, exhaustion sets into the athlete, performance hinders, and the by-products of exercises are not getting flushed regularly.

Sports Cardiology BC stated that “water is involved in the majority of chemical reactions involved in athletic performance. It is important that athletes are hydrated before, during, and after physical activity to achieve their maximum physical performance”.

Meaning, get your water in, use a hydration supplement when deemed appropriate for you, and go crush your workouts.

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