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March 31, 2023

Hydration 101

If you’re unsure of the ideal hydration protocol you need to gain a competitive edge, you’re far from alone.

Even though study after study has shown that proper hydration optimizes multiple components of performance - from endurance and power to focus and reaction time - most athletes still have an imprecise, unregimented approach when it comes to fluid replenishment. Not only is this a less-than-ideal practice for those seeking to perform at their best, but it can also be dangerous, as falling into either dehydrated or hyponatremic (overhydrated) states during heavy exertion greatens the risk of debilitating ailments like seizures, heat stroke, and kidney failure.

Of course, there’s a good reason why most athletes’ hydration protocols are less than optimal. Understanding the ideal volume and timing of fluid intake in the midst of variables like exercise intensity and atmospheric temperature is a monumental challenge… never mind remembering the specifics of a protocol and adhering to them during the heat of competition.

FluidLogic was founded specifically to address this dilemma for athletes, to bring science and technology together to make proper hydration simple and effortless for those seeking to perform at their best. First implemented across the world of motorsports, the FluidLogic intelligent drinking systems are now available for athletes across the spectrum of competitive sports, eliminating guesswork when it comes to hydration and helping athletes better reach their true potential.

Why Is Hydration Important?

Athletes naturally think of sweating (temperature control) when it comes to proper hydration. But since our bodies are made up of 60-70% water, that only scratches the surface of the importance of water to the body and its role in both physical and cognitive performance.

  • Strength, Power, and Endurance
    Multiple studies have shown that decreases in hydration levels have a direct correlation with decreases in athletes’ ability to maintain peak muscular and cardiovascular output.

  • Digestion
    Water is essential for the digestion and transporting of nutrients needed to fuel, maintain, and repair the body. Proper hydration facilitates the equilibrium necessary for these processes.

  • Weight Loss
    Research indicates that proper hydration can help people lose weight by increasing their metabolic rate while decreasing their inclination to eat.

  • Reaction Time, Short Term Memory, and Focus
    Proper hydration has been shown to play a key role in multiple cognitive aspects of performance, including the prevention of “brain fog” in endurance race car drivers.

  • Rest
    Hydration levels have been shown to have a direct impact on the quality of sleep, and thereby the benefits of sleep, which include rest, recovery, and repair.

  • Headache Prevention
    Studies show that headaches - including migraine headaches - are symptoms of dehydration. Proper hydration can help keep them at bay and provide relief when they do occur.

  • Kidney Stone Prevention
    Kidney stones are hard, painful mineral crystals that can occur within the urinary tract. Proper hydration helps decrease the likelihood of mineral crystallization from occurring.

There’s much, much more we could get into, but you get the idea.

What Causes Dehydration?

You might not realize it, but your body is constantly using water that needs to be replenished, even at rest. In addition to sweating, natural processes such as breathing, and excretion drain your body’s fluid reserves. For those working in hot temperatures and/or performing extreme physical activities and exercise, that drain is more pronounced due to large volumes of sweat expended to keep the body from overheating. And extreme or sudden episodes of vomiting or diarrhea can also remove a significant volume of fluids from your body's organs and tissues within a very short time. Additional variables that can also contribute to fluid loss in some individuals include diet, stimulants like caffeine, certain types of medications, and physical conditions such as diabetes.

If fluids are not replenished, significant systems within the body begin to become compromised, leading to decreased levels of physical and mental performance while increasing susceptibility to heat injuries such as heat exhaustion, muscle cramps, and hypovolemic shock.

Signs of Dehydration

How can you tell if you’re dehydrated? The tell-tale signs vary by age, physical condition, and level of activeness. Young children rarely recognize the feeling of thirst, so it's essential to provide them with fluids frequently and watch for warning signs that include lethargy, irritability, infrequent urination, little or no tears when they cry, and a dry mouth/tongue. In adults, dehydration may be accompanied by symptoms of thirst, fatigue, confusion, dizziness, and infrequent urination.

For both adults and children, a common way of determining whether someone is dehydrated is by observing the color of their urine. When you're healthy and hydrated, your urine should fall somewhere between colorless and the color of light straw and honey. When you don't consume enough fluids, your urine becomes more concentrated and turns a darker yellow or amber color.

Preventing Dehydration

In terms of dehydration, preparation is the key to prevention. Have ample fluids on hand, especially during intense exercise and/or extreme temperatures. Pre-hydrating before an event or exercise has been shown to be beneficial in reducing incidences of dehydration. And don’t wait to drink until you get thirsty! The consensus within the scientific community is that by the time someone is feeling thirsty, they are already dehydrated. So rather than wait for the body’s delayed signal, it’s best to drink intermittently in small amounts throughout the day to maintain adequate proper levels.

Hydration for Motorsports

Motorsports drivers, perhaps more than any other athlete, are subject to extreme conditions that rapidly deplete their fluid reserves. In addition to the protocols outlined above, it’s highly recommended that consider strategies that can make them less susceptible to the effects of dehydration, including improving their cardiovascular fitness, heat tolerance (acclimatization), and adopting an active fluid replacement system.

Calculating Fluid Intake

According to the National Academies of Medicine, women need an average of 2.7 liters of fluid per day while men need about 3.7 liters at minimum. About 60% of this daily fluid intake should come from water, while 40% can come from beverages such as tea or coffee. Broth-based soup and food that has a high-water percentage like fruits and some vegetables can also contribute to your recommended daily intake of water.

Of course, the above is just the minimum threshold for both men and women. People who live and work in hot and humid conditions exert higher amounts of energy throughout the day, and athletes seeking to perform at their best require much greater amounts of fluid to maintain proper hydration levels. Weighing oneself before and after exercise is often a good indicator of how much fluid has been lost during a particular session or event.

However, it should be noted that just because water needs to be replenished constantly, it’s not a good idea to “just chug it” all the time. Because just like ice cream, when it comes to fluids, you really can have too much of a good thing. Ingesting too much water - especially during intense exercise - can dilute the body’s sodium levels and can cause cerebral swelling, among other ailments.

Be Your Best Self

With all the knowledge about hydration that the scientific community has amassed over the past decade, there’s never been a better time to be an athlete! Plus, in addition to knowledge, today’s athletes have several incredible tools at their disposal, like FluidLogic’s Active Hydration system, that automate hydration and enable them to focus on what they want most: to be their best.

About FluidLogic

FluidLogic is at the intersection of hydration and wearable technology. Our products were born in the harsh conditions of the Baja 1000 and have been field-proven by the Department of Defense (DOD) and law enforcement community members. The first-of-its-kind FluidLogic system with Active Hydration™ is designed to maximize the performance of anyone involved in an active pursuit or profession, including motorsports, powersports, public and industrial safety, outdoor recreation, and the military.”

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