These days it is no surprise that everyone and especially athletes should have a well developed drinking regime. Hence this article is not about coaches keeping eye on the drinking habits of their players. Everybody does that already. We are going to look at how athletes should keep on track with proper hydration and what of the new trend hydration products can be utilised.

A special drinking regime is only needed in case of long-lasting or intensive physical performance. If a performance is shorter than one hour and not very intensive ordinary water is good enough to replenish fluids in the athlete’s system. There is no need to use any special drinking procedure as the lost water and ions are replenished automatically during a recovery phase. Especially in children floorball there is no need for any special fluid supplements because kids matches and training sessions are not very long and nor very intense. The use of sports drinks is therefore not recommended for children. They should also completely avoid drinking so called energy drinks, which contain substances like caffeine, L-carnitine, taurine, guarana, etc. In terms of kids and their drinking regime it should be sufficient to check they don’t come to the training and/or match dehydrated (dry or cracked lips) and that they have a bottle of water with them or that there is a drinking water fountain at the venue.

This article applies to adult athletes only and more specifically to those whose water deficit during a performance causes a loss of weight bigger than 1% of the their total body weight. For a 70kg floorball player it means that during a training or match the player sweats out more than three quarters of a litre of water. Only then a strict drinking regime and the use of sports drinks is consider beneficial. In such a case the replenishment of lost fluids is important for the following reasons:

  • it prevents an increasing pressure on cardiovascular system (blood density rises when body loses a water)
  • it prevents tissue metabolic deterioration
  • it facilitates thermoregulation and as such prevents a possible over-heating of the body (if a person has more than enough water, he/she can sweat more in order to cool off)
  • it helps to replenish carbohydrates, which prevents a hypoglycaemia
  •  it saves the supply of glycogen which enhances the actual endurance performance
  • it helps to replenish ions lost by sweating and therefore it prevents the imbalance of inner body balance

If we do not replace fluids in our system it will negatively influence our physical performance. How do we replenish the fluids then? Drinking regime can be divided into three phases: Phase 1: Replenishing of fluids before performance; Phase 2: Replenishing of fluids during performance; and Phase 3: Replenishing of fluids after performance.

Drinking regime before performance

It is recommended to drink approximately (½ ltr) half a litre of fluids (5-7ml per each kilogram of body weight) about 2 hours prior a performance. Such amount of fluid should be sufficient to cover eventual fluid deficit in the players system. In case the player’s body doesn’t lack any fluids, 2 hours is a sufficient time for body to eliminate the surplus (kidneys need approximately 60 to 90 minutes to process such an intake).

In about 10 minutes before the physical performance every player should drink about 100-200 ml of water or hypotonic drink. This amount of fluids will guarantee a replacing of the losses caused by sweating immediately after the beginning of the performance.

In case of a long-lasting or intensive performance or performance in extreme weather conditions such an amount is not sufficient and it will require further fluid intake even during a performance.

Drinking regime during performance

During a performance, it is wise to drink fluids in small doses so the player’s stomach doesn’t get overfilled by a liquid taken at once. Although the following statement is in contradiction to the advice hereinbefore some scientific sources recommend a different way of replenishing fluids during performances than drinking in small doses. Those articles recommend greater amount of liquid taken at once in case a player is able to tolerate a greater amount of fluids (for example you have no problem drinking a litre of liquid right before a performance). Hence this could be another way of keeping hydrated.  However, if we choose the method of taking small doses, which probably will be more acceptable for most players and moreover easily accessible since players have their drinking bottles within a reach. Players should start drinking soon after the beginning of the performance. It takes between 9 – 18 minutes for the water to be processed by a digestive system before it reaches the body surface (the skin).

Recommended drink during a match is water or a hypotonic drink. According to the results of a recent research it’s not recommended drinking an isotonic drink during a match. The reason is that the isotonic drink needs to be diluted in a digestive system. That means that the water is drained out from a working muscle and therefore muscles efficiency drops. The same apply to hypertonic type of drinks.

Let’s focus now on a drink temperature. It is appropriate to consume cold or chilled drink when the ambient temperature is above 10°C as these are best absorbed by the digestive system. Ideal drink temperature is somewhere between 10-14°C. Moreover a cold drink also functions as prevention from body over-heating. Generally a consuming of drink of lower temperature than 10°C could cause a risk of hypothermia and possibility of being sick. However the risk in floorball is not significant as floorball is performed at indoor venues.

Drinking regime after performance

Even though the rules of drinking regime before and after a performance are followed the loss of fluids is generally higher than the intake. Rehydration is therefore a necessary part of the recovery process after the performance. Amount of fluids drank after performance should be equal to the weight lost during performance. It is recommended to drink one litre of fluids for every kilogram of bodyweight lost during performance. Keeping the fluids inside the body and preventing their elimination through urinating it is necessary to replenish ions lost by sweating*.  Hence drinking of special sport drinks is appropriate only after performance. Hypotonic, isotonic and hypertonic drinks are recommended as they provide restocking of water and ions as well as energy in the system. These drinks have a positive effect on faster recovery process and energy supplies and thus on the whole process of regeneration.

As opposed to drinking during a performance players should not be drinking cold fluids after performance as there is no longer a risk of overheating as well as no need cooling the body down. After performance we therefore drink lukewarm drink (room temperature drinks) to minimise a chance of getting cold.

What kind of drinks should you choose? Recapitulation

Before and during a performance hypotonic drinks or water are recommended. Hypotonic drinks are quickly absorbed and therefore provide a faster restocking of fluids in the system. Isotonic drinks are appropriate immediately after finish of the performance as they help replenishing not only fluids (even though more slowly than hypotonic drinks) but also an energy. Hypertonic drinks are not suitable for quick replacement of fluids and as such they are useful after the performance only as an additional recovery aid. It helps to replenish a sizeable quantity of ions, sugar, vitamins, trace elements and some amino acids.

Approximately half a litre of fluids should be drank about two hours before a performance and 100 – 200ml right before a performance. Small doses according to player’s need should be drunk during a performance. Post performance the refilling of fluids should be done in accordance with the amount of lost weight through the sweating process.

* 1 litre of sweat contains approximately:

  • 1.5 – 3.5 gm of NaCl (common salt)
  • 0.5 – 2.5 gm of Mg (magnesium)
  • 0.1 – 0.3 gm of K (potassium)
  • There is also a relatively small amount of calcium and some trace elements

Note: This article concurs with previously published text HYPO, ISO, HYPER.

Vítězslav Carda

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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