Nutrition

The Importance of Water and Water Consumption During Endurance Events and Training

// February 13th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Nutrition

All Water Is Not Equal

Everyone needs water, no one can argue with that.  But water is not water,  and all water is not created equal.  You should drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day, most people do not even come close to that.  If you exercise heavily, you need more water.  Some experts suggest 1/2 litre of water per hour of vigorous exercise.  What makes water good?  Two things are important:  purity (free of contaminants, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, etc.) and total dissolved parts per million (ppm) which are also known as trace minerals or electrolytes.  Ideally water should have 300 dissolved ppm.  If water does not contain naturally dissolved minerals then it is truly “lifeless”.  The mineral content enables water to be absorbed into the cells to actually hydrate you.

Tap water from wells or lakes contains contaminants from runoff like chemicals. Even though it is filtered, it often also contains flouride and  residue from pharmaceutical drugs. We have water from Lake Michigan.  If I turn on the faucet and let it run, you can smell the chlorine strongly (that is not good).     You can add a supplemental filter to your house, but it can’t get all the impurities out of the water.  Well water, artesian spring water, and other natural sources of water may often contain a high mineral content, depending on the source.  But it is important to make sure that source is pure and free of contaminants.  If the water source or well is anywhere near a factory, farm or home, then chances are that fertilizer, chemicals, etc. are leaching into the water table and contaminating the water.  Ideally clean spring water in glass containers is the best, however it is not always possible or practical.  Here are 3 of the highest mineral content waters that are also clean sources of water:

1.  Evian 309 dissolved ppm

2.  FIJI  208 ppm

3.  Mountain Valley Spring  169 ppm

Endurance Exercise and Water Consumption

You have heard the stories, or may have even know people that have become dehydrated, or have suffered from heat stroke or heat exhaustion during endurance races like half marathons, marathons and triathlons.  During events like these you sweat a lot.  In extreme heat/humid conditions the body is taxed more during exercise and you sweat even more.  Many people choose to drink the water supplied  on the race course.  But when you are losing lots of trace minerals through your sweat and you drink tap water, or water without mineral contents, you actually flush more trace minerals out of your body- so you are making things worse!  Sometimes sports drinks like gatorade are offered along the course.  While the sugar and chemical content of gatorade is not ideal, it would be better than drinking the water under extreme conditions.  There are other cleaner sports drinks, but it is not convenient to carry those while you are racing.  What works really well, is convenient and is clean……Salt/mineral tablets.  These work very well and are easily stowed in your shorts.  You can take a few salt tablets before the race and then take them every 20-60 minutes, depending on race/weather conditions.  You could take between 1-3 tablets at different time increments.  It is also important after a race or hard training session not dilute your body further with with regular water.  It is also good to make sure that you salt your food using a natural sea salt.  Good sea salt contains 82 trace minerals (electrolytes).  If you are training intensely, especially during more extreme weather conditions, liberally salt your foods.  You may find yourself even craving salty foods during this period.  Instead of reaching for unhealthy salty snacks, increase your sea salt intake.

Consider these:

1.  Pay attention to your sweat rate (how much are you sweating).  This is varies among individuals.  If you are sweating significantly more than  what is “usual” for you, you need to increase your salt.  If you find that you have salt residue on your face and body, that is another sign to increase your salt and mineral consumption.  Losing minerals at a rapid rate can make you feel tired and even nauseous.

2. Acclimitization (How long have you been training in hot/humid conditions).  The body takes 2-4 weeks to acclimatize to weather conditions.  Your body will not respond favorably to hot and humid conditions in the spring or early summer.  As you train more in these conditions, your body will adapt and become more efficient at training in those conditions.  Earlier in the season, you may need more water then you do later in the season when you are used to training in hot/humid conditions.  It is ideal to train in conditions that will be similar to that of your race.

3.  Practice your hydration and supplementation during your training.   Use the same hydration and supplementation in training and on race day…don’t try a different product that you have not used in training.

Product Recommendations:

1.   Electrolyte Stamina by Trace Minerals Research

2.  Meta Salt by  Sport quest

3.  Electolyte Stamina Power Pak by Trace Minerals Research

4.  Celtic Sea Salt, Sel de Mer Baleine (this is dried and works well in salt shakers), Pacific New Zealand Sea Salt