Being dehydrated sucks. Your brain doesn’t work right, your body doesn’t work right. When you’re dehydrated nothing works right. Do you want to walk around all day with a tired body and foggy head? Of course, you don’t.
Hydration is the best way to boost your mind. Your mind will work better when you’re properly hydrated. A well-hydrated mind will experience more mental drive, better memory, focus, and productivity.
Being hydrated gives your body a boost, too. If you’ve ever tried to do a workout when you’re thirsty you probably know that your body does better when it’s hydrated. When you’re hydrated, your body just works better, naturally.
But how much water is enough to stay properly hydrated? And when should you supplement that water with electrolytes?
What Coach Rosa Says About Workouts and Water
We interviewed running coach and runner-extraordinaire Rosa Moriello of East by West Distance to hear how a professional would answer our questions about hydration. Though her advice is focused on runners, this can also apply to other types of athletes and non-athletes too. So even if you aren’t a runner, keep reading, there’s good stuff for you in here.
Rosa Moriello is a Denver-based running coach, ultramarathoner, and veteran distance running athlete. Rosa is a badass runner and has all sorts of running credentials. If you try to keep up with her you’ll see what we mean. She has been running competitively since 2006. Most recently, she completed a training block for the Collegiate Peaks 50-mile ultra.
Rosa had all sorts of insights into everything athletics, especially hydration. We learned what she tells her athletes to drink while they’re training. She told us how much to hydrate before and after a workout, too. Rosa is a wealth of info on hydration and athletic performance.
“[Hydration] is more than just for athletes,” She said, “Being dehydrated makes your brain foggy, it makes you tired, it causes cramping, it even gives you bad breath.” That’s not good for anyone. It’s not good for athletes or couch potatoes, or anyone in between.
And yes, dehydration really does cause bad breath, “Morning breath is caused by a bacteria that thrives in drier environments,” Rosa told us. Guess what you’re not doing while you sleep all night? That’s right, you aren’t drinking water.
How to Stay Hydrated Like a Boss
Rosa recommends all her athletes hydrate before and after a run, “Drink before activity for energy, and after for recovery.”
She stressed there isn’t a blanket approach to hydration that works for everyone, but there are simple steps you can take to stay hydrated:
- Drink water before your workout, adding electrolytes if it’s hot out or if you feel like you need them.
- Drink water during your workout if it’s long, think over 1-2 hours here. It helps to drink water during shorter workouts as long as it doesn’t upset your stomach, but this isn’t easy for runners in particular.
- Drink water with electrolytes for recovery after your workout.
She continued, “Electrolytes are something I recommend to athletes often – especially for post-activity and in the warmer months – because they help you absorb your water faster and hydrate you better than water alone.”
Since it’s easier to run without carrying water, Rosa recommends her athletes drink plenty of water at least 30 minutes before their run. This way, all that water has time to absorb and isn’t sloshing around in their stomachs.
“Runs longer than 2 hours are when you’re going to definitely want to start bringing water with you,” Rosa told us. She drinks about 12-16 ounces of water an hour during more prolonged activities but stressed that everyone is different. If you’re a 250-pound man, you’re going to need to drink a lot more water than Rosa.
Everyone’s body is different, and everyone’s hydration needs are going to be different as well. Many factors are going to affect how much you’ll need to drink, before, during, and after your workout. If you’re sweating a lot, all that water and salt you lose are going to have to be replenished. On hot, sunny days, you’ll sweat more, so you’ll need to hydrate a lot more than you will on cooler, cloudy days.
When working out on hot days, Rosa recommends adding electrolytes to your drink, even before a workout. This is especially true for athletes who often have problems with dehydration, like cramping or even passing out.
Yes, she has known many athletes to pass out after workouts, including herself! She frequently used to pass out after races and suspects this was due to a mineral deficiency. But, now that she takes hydration, electrolytes, and nutrition seriously this isn’t a problem.
“After a workout is when electrolytes are the most beneficial for athletes,” Rosa said. “The standard recommendation is to drink 25 ounces of water for recovery after a workout,” she continued, “I recommend my athletes drink water and electrolytes immediately after a workout, along with some healthy food with plenty of salt and other minerals.” And rather than the standard 25 ounces of water per hour, she recommends drinking water “until your pee is clear.”
“Water follows salt,” she continued, “You’ll absorb water faster if you drink it with [electrolytes].”
Since salt is the main electrolyte you lose when you sweat, you need to replenish this essential electrolyte after you lose it in a workout. “The most important electrolytes for athletes are Sodium and Chloride,” Rosa said, “Magnesium, Zinc, and Potassium are a bonus.”
The time of day is going to affect your hydration needs as well. If you’re working out in the heat of the day you’re going to sweat a lot. Working out in the morning or after sunset is ideal for the summer months, but if you have to work out during the hot part of the day be sure you’re very hydrated. As the amount you’re sweating increases, the amount you’re hydrating should also be increasing.
The water in your body helps you regulate your body temperature. If you aren’t properly hydrated your body will be more prone to overheating. And guess what this will do. It will cause you to sweat even more!
The Benefits of Hydration
For athletes, Rosa really stresses the importance of hydration for more than just performance, “Hydration is incredibly important for athletes because if you’re dehydrated your muscles may cramp during activity. Being active on cramping muscles can lead to injury.”
You see, a cramping muscle won’t contract or relax properly. And, if you try to move with a non-functioning muscle you can injure it. This will be even more painful than a simple muscle cramp that could have been prevented with proper hydration and electrolytes.
The benefits of hydration aren’t just the absence of negative effects, either. Being properly hydrated allows your heart to pump blood more effectively throughout your body. This delivers more oxygen to the muscles that need it during a workout and results in more energy. You’ll have more energy during and after your workout.
Even if you aren’t a badass runner like Rosa, a properly hydrated body and mind will give you the mental drive and focus to get through any task, no matter how tedious. You’ll have the energy you need to get through every day. You’ll be productive, focused, and ready for anything.
You’ll never know what a properly hydrated body and mind can do until you experience it for yourself. Stay hydrated, friends.