Monday, July 22, 2013
5 Performance Nutrition Tips for Exercise in the Heat & Humidity
What a crazy week it has been across the country - high temperatures combined with high humidity has lead to heat-related incidences being reported all over the news. This weather does not help athletes in peak training and competition time. Help yourself maintain your training intensity with the following 5 tips.
Hydration doesn't start one hour before your workout...it starts as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning. Drink 2 cups of water as soon as you get out of bed - even before breakfast. This will help kick-start the rehydration process. During your workout, take on a bit more fluid than normal; drink cold beverages to help keep your core temperature controlled.
2. Mind your electrolytes
One of the reasons sports drinks are better than plain water for training athletes is because your body loses more than water when you sweat...it also lose electrolytes (mainly sodium). Also, electrolytes are imperative for muscle contraction during exercise. Taking in electrolytes with fluid helps your body hold on to more of that fluid. This means you hydrate your body better and visit the bathroom less frequently. During your workout, consider drinking a sports drink to help your body hydrate better. One possible cause of muscle cramping during or after exercise is an imbalance of electrolytes; this is prevented by appropriate hydration with sports drinks. If you are not a fan of added sugars, try a no-calorie electrolyte supplement such as Nuun tabs or a no-calorie drink such as Powerade Zero.
3. Wear breathable clothing
When the air is already saturated with water (i.e. in high humidity), sweat does not easily evaporate from your skin. Breathable fabrics wick moisture away from your skin, which helps your body be more efficient at cooling itself. Since there is an indirect relationship between body temperature and performance, staying cool is key. Note there is both warm weather and cold weather breathable clothing, so pay attention to what you are buying. Shell out the extra bucks - these clothes are worth it! And whenever possible, use a towel to wipe off excess sweat on your arms, face, legs, etc. It is not the sweating that cools your body, but the evaporation of that sweat.
4. Look for fluid on your plate
In addition to hydrating with fluids, choose foods with a high-water content, such as WATERmelon, tomatoes, lettuce, and melons. This will add to your daily fluid intake while also providing vitamins and minerals that athletes need for proper recovery.
5. Take it easy
No athlete responds well to those words. However, decreasing intensity for a day or two is better than recovering for several days from heat illness. If you find that your heart rate is skyrocketing, you are dizzy, or that you are experiencing chills or nausea, you need to find some shade, take a break, and hydrate. Force yourself to drink, even if you are feeling nauseous. Assess your hydration tactics and increase your efforts before you continue exercise in the heat. (Note: if you feel faint, find help immediately or call 9-1-1.)
Remember that it takes approximately 7-14 days on average for your body to acclimate to exercise in the heat. So be patient if you're not hitting your goal splits or heart rate ranges for a few days. Using these 5 tactics, you'll soon be back to your normal intensity.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/crestedcrazy/