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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Mistakes people make when trying to get in shape


1. Not creating great habits from day 1.
Getting lean is EASY… once you’ve created the necessary habits. 
Stay extremely diligent and focused for the first 4 weeks of any new nutrition protocol and create the habits necessary for success. It may be tough at first, but those first 4 weeks are the most important to your success. Saying “NO” to cheat meals, missing workouts, missing meals, not getting enough sleep, etc. As much as it may seem that your goal is far off at the start, this is the most important time for your long term success.
Make a few small sacrifices from the start, and the journey will be much less stressful, it will simply be a habit.
2. Not being concerned with your health as well as appearance.
If your body is healthy, it will function much better, feel better, recover better, and your mind will be more clear. Too many people are only focused on looks. 
3. Overdoing it.
More is not better. Better is better. Strategic progression is better. Work hard, work smart, and don’t beat your body into the ground. If you do, your mind will also find itself digging out from a trench. Stress and a feeling of being overwhelmed are inevitable.
4. Limiting food choices.
Variety when dieting is vital. So many foods have essential nutrients necessary for basic body function. It;s especially important to rotate proteins and fats. Variety will also prevent binging. Give yourself some choices and you will enjoy your food more.
5. Not eating a variety of proteins.
As above, eating ONLY egg whites and chicken breast is a recipe for disaster. Your body needs a variety of amino acids to function, detox, produce neurotransmitters, etc. Wild meats have the best nutrient profiles and, despite what most people will have you believe, you can get lean eating red meat. 
6. Eliminating fats.
Fats will not make you fat. Your body needs fats to survive and flourish. Use them wisely. Variety is a good idea here as well. A well balanced nutrition plan has plenty of omega 3, 6, 9, MCTs, and even saturated fat.
7. Not optimizing sleep.
If you train, you must recover. If you’re not sleeping 8 hrs on average, assume that your body isn’t recovering and your cortisol is constantly elevated. Bad news. 
8. Not varying cardio method.
Different cardio works different muscles. Doing the same thing over and over will get boring, and will also lose its effectiveness quickly. Variety will help tighten and tone additional muscles, as well as conditioning them for your weight training sessions. 
Not varying cardio method
9. Not varying cardio routine/intensity.
The goal of any cardio plan is to shock the body by subjecting it to something it’s never done before. This will get results the fastest. Too many newbies take this to mean you must do MORE, when it simply means you must do something different. Work hard, not necessarily longer.
10. Not strategically progressing your workouts.
On a 12 week prep, plan to make things harder each week. Just slightly. Add in volume, decrease rest periods, add in intensifiers little by little. Too many people show all their cards too soon and back themselves into a corner. Eventually your body will stop responding to what you’re doing and you’ll have nowhere to turn.
11. Not creating a MAP.
MASSIVE ACTION PLAN. A road map of exactly how you’ll progress each week. 
Personally I like to increase intensity/workload one week, then decrease calories a bit the next. Alternating this way until I get to my goal.
12. Listening to too many people.
There are thousands of ways to get someone into shape. All of which may work. This doesn’t mean they’re optimal. You may beat yourself into the ground, hate your life, and destroy your metabolism with many of these plans, so buyer beware. 
Ideally choose one SMART person, and follow their plan. If it doesn’t work, learn and move on. 
Thinking fat burners13. Thinking fat burners will do the trick.
Use “fat burners” for energy to work harder. Do not be under the assumption that they will have some miraculous fat burning benefits. The best fat burner is a set of gym shoes.
14. Taking too many stimulants.
As well as the reason mentioned above, stimulants will tax your adrenal glands and lead to adrenal overload. This can keep cortisol elevated over long periods. Bad news for fat loss. 
15. Not adjusting calories according to workload/output.
It’s a good idea to adjust calories according to the workouts you do that day. If you’re doing two hard weight sessions, you’re more likely to require additional carbs then if you’re doing one low intensity cardio session. Logic applies.

16. Doing too much too soon.
Going from zero to 100 when you first start a diet plan is a sure fire way to burn yourself out and guarantee failure. Make the smallest incremental changes you can while still seeing changes each day and each week. 
We all know someone that starts a diet with 12-16 weeks to go to their deadline and they’re already doing no carbs, and 2 hours of cardio a day. 
WHERE DO YOU GO FROM THERE??? 
17. Alienating your support network.
You need people. We have all been guilty of closing ourselves off from certain people who may not understand our goals. Listen, I’m all for getting rid of toxic people in your life, but make sure you’re not making decisions you will regret. Sometimes a dieting/depleted brain isn’t rational. 
18. Relying on supplements.
You need FOOD. Whey protein and fat burners are tools. Not life sources. 
19. Trying to follow the latest fad diet instead of relying on work to get you there.
I could name a few recent diets that catch peoples attention because they seem to get you to your goal with less perceived effort and work.
Science is looking for the BEST possible scenario to get you there fastest. The people creating the fads though are marketers. Work hard and stick with the basics. 
20. Not getting uncomfortable.
Realize, ITS GOING TO HURT. You should become okay with this!
Find the joy in getting outside of your comfort zone and realize it will make you better in the long run. Trust me, each year after I compete, trivial tasks in life that people find difficult, no longer seem challenging. 
21. Not concerning yourself with detoxing, as well as limiting toxic load.
Toxic liver… sluggish metabolism, bottom line!
Detox, and avoid adding additional toxins. Toxins also massively affect brain function, and neurotransmitters which control mood energy, and motivation. 
22. Blindly following someone who has limited knowledge.
Just because someone has been in shape, or has gotten someone else in shape, doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. EVER. You can get a chimpanzee shredded by feeding them cardboard and ice cubes. This doesn’t mean its optimal. If you’re PAYING for it, it should be optimal for you.
23. Not asking enough questions.
If you don’t know why, ask!
It’s important that you: A) learn, and B) know that there is a rationale behind your plan.
Not keeping track24. Not keeping track.
Keeping journals and records is one of the most under valued practices on the planet. I guarantee this will help you to stay motivated, and on the fast track to shredded. Sounds like a lot of work, but it’s just a matter of creating the habit. It takes 5-10 mins a day!
25. Not incorporating more full body work (HIIT, strongman, multiple body-parts).
The more muscles you can incorporate into a workout, the more you stimulate calorie burning. 
26. Getting stuck in the, “one body-part once a week” mindset.
For most people (99%) this is simply not enough to grow or make progress (unless you’re a newbie to training). Your muscles need to be stimulated regularly AND you will burn more calories the more often you stimulate muscles. An exception being pure mesomorphs like some top bodybuilders.
27. Not taking enough rest days.
Your nervous system and adrenals need off days. Take them weekly. 
28. Justifying bad habits/creating bad habits.
“I worked hard today”, “it’s only one time”, “it won’t hurt just this once”. The truth is, no it probably won’t hurt that one time. But that’s the bad part. Cause when you justify it once, you’ll justify it again. Guaranteed. Create good habits and stick with them!
29. Overdoing certain foods.
So many people get stuck in a routine of eating the same things over and over again. This can quickly lead to intolerance and inflammation. No bueno. 
30. Not spacing out workouts.
3 hour workouts are too long. Try doing cardio at a different time of the day instead of after weight sessions, or try splitting body-parts so that you train more frequently instead of longer.
Example: chest in the morning, biceps/abs at night – this is hard for some people due to their schedule, but it;s still ideal. 
31. Training too long.
Your energy will dip. Your intensity will suffer, and you won’t burn as many calories.
Training too slow32. Training too slow.
Chatty, chatty.
Keep the workout density high. Keep track of rest periods so you can use them as a tool for increasing the effort and workload of your workouts. 
33. Not taking advantage of nutrient timing benefits.
People are confused by a massive influx of contradictory information that runs rampant on the internet today. Make no mistake, nutrient timing absolutely matters.
It may not matter ALL the time, but there are certainly times of the day when eating certain foods will affect your performance, recovery, energy, and propensity to store body-fat. 
Now, for “average” people who don’t train, or are new to exercise, nutrient timing will matter much less. But those of us looking for an edge, learning some basic timing theory can go a long way. 
34. Undereating and so impeding performance.
To lose fat, you’ve got to rely on hard, intense workouts. Regularly undereating will leave you sluggish and unable to train at maximum effort.
This is a fine line that you need to toe on a day to day basis. Too many calories and you will get bigger or fatter, too few and your performance suffers. This is why recording what you do and eat is vital. Cycling nutrients has also been shown to be one of the best ways to make continuous progress.
35. Not taking naps.
Simple. The more often you can nap, the better. Within reason of course. Too much of a good thing can have negative effects as well. The best time to nap is immediately after a workout (eat first of course). This will have the effect of modulating your sympathetic nervous system and initiating the recovery process systemically.
36. Not “finding the joy” in what you’re doing.
Any able-bodied person better realize it’s a joy and a privilege to be training, and eating great food. Too many people spend their lives complaining about “having” to do something that they choose to do. 
Not many people “enjoy” cardio, but find a reason to appreciate it and find the joy. Example: a time to be alone, improve yourself, get shredded, improve your heart function, and you have the time and ability to DO IT! 
37. Gratitude.
Taking time to find the gratitude for the things you are, have, and do, will take you a long way toward a happy life. It seems simple, but focusing on gratitude will change your life. 
38. Sex.
Will NOT affect performance (unless its marathon sex).
Have sex. Often. It’s good for you. Makes you feel great, and creates a better relationship with your spouse.
39. Not setting big-enough goals!
“Set the type of goals that will make something of you to achieve them”~ Jim Rohn.
Goals that make you stretch, make you reach, force you to get uncomfortable and therefore create a better version of you.
40. Not believing in yourself!
Nothing in life is outside of YOUR control. Take your focus of control and put it right inside of you. YOU control your outcomes. Small victories will add up to large ones.
Not taking control of your situation. (“if I get in shape” etc., puts the control outside yourself).
The words you use can set the tone for success and failure. Take control of your words and take control of your situation. Failure is not an option. You do what it takes to get it done.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Glycemic Index

Sugars: are they all the same?

Sugar, an essential source of fuel for the human body, is consumed and assimilated in many different forms. From a nutritional point of view, sugar belongs to the carbohydrate family, which can be divided into:
  • polysaccharides or complex sugars such as bread, pasta, potatoes and rice;
  • disaccharides such as sucrose (common table sugar) and maltose;
  • monosaccharides such as glucose and fructose.
Gli zuccheri: tutti uguali?
Between them, the three categories are diverse from both a chemical and nutritional point of view. Our diet must include all three, but often tends to be richest in those which are least beneficial to our health. So how do you distinguish foods containing 'good' sugar, which are suitable to eat, from 'bad' sugar, which should be avoided? This is where the Glycemic Index (GI) comes in.

The system ranks foods rich in carbohydrates based on their effect on the glycemia, in other words their ability to raise or lower blood sugar levels following consumption. For example, a low glycemic index of around 50 represents carbohydrates which are absorbed slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, whilst a high glycemic index of around 100 or higher indicatesrapid absorption, and therefore high glycemic 'spikes'.

A sudden spike in glycemia stimulates the release of a hormone called insulin, which reduces blood glucose levels by forcing it to be stored in cells. Blood glucose levels may subsequently fall too low, thereby transmitting a message requesting more sugars and stimulating the desire to eat.

A carbohydrate-rich diet with a high glycemic index may therefore give rise to a damaging physiological mechanism which often leads to dietary disorders related to overweight andobesity.

It follows that high GI foods should be consumed in limited quantities. This group particularly includes sugary drinks (soft drinks such as cola, orange squash and citrus drinks), sweets,biscuitspotatoeswhite bread and rice.
Meanwhile there are other foods which also provide carbohydrates, but which are not rapidly assimilated, therefore they do not cause an abnormal rise in glycemia or insulin levels in the blood stream.
This category of foods includes the majority of vegetables (with the exception of potatoes, pumpkin, beetroot and carrots) and fruit (except bananas, persimmons, certain types of exotic fruit and certain types of dry fruit, such as raisins and figs).
It is therefore advisable to consume foods with a low glycemic index which help maintain the most stable blood sugar level, thereby guaranteeing better control over hunger.
The Glycemic Index of some common foods
Food
G.I. values
Beans
20 - 38
Whole milk
23 - 31
Plums
24 - 53
Apple
28 - 44
Orange
31 - 51
Natural yoghurt
32 - 40
Pear
36 - 40
Orange juice
46 - 54
Grapes
46 - 59
Kiwi fruit
47 - 59
Wholemeal bread
50 - 56
Carrots
31 - 63
Muesli
39 - 75
Honey
32 - 95
Rye bread
50 - 64
Spaghetti
51 - 63
Apricots
57 - 64
Dry biscuits
61 - 67
Cane sugar
63 - 73
Orange squash
62 - 74
Bananas
65 - 75
Chips (frozen)
approx. 75
White bread
30 - 110
White rice
48 - 112
Crackers
52 - 98
Popcorn
55 - 89
Boiled potatoes
56 - 101
Roast potatoes
77 - 101
Corn flakes
approx. 91
Glucose
100
Note: the Glycemic Index in the table is compared to glucose (GI value of 100). 
Data source: International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values (Foster-Powell K, Holt SH, Bran

Monday, 23 June 2014

Ketogenic Diets

10 Proven Health Benefits of Low-Carb 

Woman Holding a Bowl of SaladLow-carb diets have been controversial for decades.
They were originally demonized by fat-phobic health professionals and the media.
People believed that these diets would raise cholesterol and cause heart disease because of the high fat content.
However… times are changing.
Since the year 2002, over 20 human studies have been conducted on low-carb diets.
In almost every one of those studies, low-carb diets come out ahead of the diets they are compared to.
Not only does low-carb cause more weight loss, it also leads to major improvements in most risk factors… including cholesterol.
Here are the 10 proven health benefits of low-carb and ketogenic diets.

1. Low-Carb Diets Kill Your Appetite (in a Good Way)

Hunger is the single worst side effect of dieting.
It is one of the main reasons why many people feel miserable and eventually give up on their diets.
One of the best things about eating low-carb is that it leads to an automatic reduction in appetite.
The studies consistently show that when people cut carbs and eat more protein and fat, they end up eating much fewer calories.
In fact… when researchers are comparing low-carb and low-fat diets in studies, they need to actively restrict calories in the low-fat groups to make the results comparable.
Bottom Line: When people cut carbs, their appetite tends to go down and they often end up eating much fewer calories without trying.

2. Low-Carb Diets Lead to More Weight Loss

Cutting carbs is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lose weight.
Young Man Eating Raw Meat
Studies show that people on low-carb diets lose more weight, faster, than people on low-fat diets… even when the low-fat dieters are actively restricting calories.
One of the reasons for this is that low-carb diets tend to get rid of excess water from the body. Because they lower insulin levels, the kidneys start shedding excess sodium, leading to rapid weight loss in the first week or two.
In studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, the low-carbers sometimes lose 2-3 times as much weight, without being hungry.
Low-carb diets appear to be particularly effective for up to 6 months, but after that the weight starts creeping back up because people give up on the diet and start eating the same old stuff.
It is much more appropriate to think of low-carb as a lifestyle, NOT a diet. The only way to succeed in the long-term is to stick to it.
However, some people may be able to add in healthier carbs after they have reached their goal weight.
Bottom Line: Almost without exception, low-carb diets lead to more weight loss than the diets they are compared to, especially in the first 6 months.

3. A Greater Proportion of The Fat Lost Comes From The Abdominal Cavity

Obese Man on a Scale, Smaller
Not all fat in the body is the same.
It’s where that fat is stored that determines how it will affect our health and risk of disease.
Most importantly, we have subcutaneous fat (under the skin) and then we have visceral fat (in the abdominal cavity).
Visceral fat is fat that tends to lodge around the organs.
Having a lot of fat in that area can drive inflammation, insulin resistance and is believed to be a leading driver of the metabolic dysfunction that is so common in Western countries today.
Low-carb diets are very effective at reducing the harmful abdominal fat.
Not only do they cause more fat loss than low-fat diets, an even greater proportion of that fat is coming from the abdominal cavity.
Over time, this should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Bottom Line: A large percentage of the fat lost on low-carb diets tends to come from the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that is known to cause serious metabolic problems.

4. Triglycerides Tend to go Way Down

Dairy Products
Triglycerides are fat molecules.
It is well known that fasting triglycerides, how much we have of them in the blood after an overnight fast, are a strong heart disease risk factor.
Perhaps counter intuitively, the main driver of elevated triglycerides is carbohydrate consumption, especially the simple sugar fructose.
When people cut carbs, they tend to have a very dramatic reduction in blood triglycerides.
Compare this to low-fat diets, which can cause triglycerides to go up in many cases.
Bottom Line: Low-carb diets are very effective at lowering blood triglycerides, which are fat molecules in the blood and a well known risk factor for heart disease.

5. Increased Levels of HDL (the “good”) Cholesterol

Meat
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is often called the “good” cholesterol.
It’s actually wrong to call it “cholesterol”… all cholesterol molecules are the same.
HDL and LDL refer to the lipoproteins that carry cholesterol around in the blood.
Whereas LDL carries cholesterol from the liver and to the rest of the body, HDL carries cholesterol away from the body and to the liver, where it can be reused or excreted.
It is well known that the higher your levels of HDL, the lower your risk of heart disease will be.
One of the best ways to increase HDL levels is to eat fat… and low-carb diets include a lot of fat.
Therefore, it is not surprising to see that HDL levels increase dramatically on low-carb diets, while they tend to increase only moderately or even go down on low-fat diets.
The Triglycerides:HDL ratio is another very strong predictor of heart disease risk. The higher it is, the greater your risk of heart disease is.
By lowering triglycerides and raising HDL levels, low-carb diets lead to a major improvement in this ratio.
Bottom Line: Low-carb diets tend to be high in fat, which leads to an impressive increase in blood levels of HDL, often referred to as the “good” cholesterol.

6. Reduced Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels, With a Major Improvement in Type 2 Diabetes

Measure Blood Sugar
When we eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars (mostly glucose) in the digestive tract.
From there, they enter the bloodstream and elevate blood sugar levels.
Because high blood sugars are toxic, the body responds with a hormone called insulin, which tells the cells to bring the glucose into the cells and to start burning or storing it.
For people who are healthy, the quick insulin response tends to minimize the blood sugar “spike” in order to prevent it from harming us.
However… many, many people have major problems with this system. They have what is called insulin resistance, which means that the cells don’t “see” the insulin and therefore it is harder for the body to bring the blood sugar into the cells.
This can lead to a disease called type 2 diabetes, when the body fails to secrete enough insulin to lower the blood sugar after meals. This disease is very common today, afflicting about 300 million people worldwide.
There is actually a very simple solution to this problem… by cutting carbohydrates, you remove the need for all of that insulin. Both blood sugars and insulin go way down.
According to Dr. Eric Westman, who has treated many diabetics using a low-carb approach, he needs to reduce their insulin dosage by 50% on the first day.
In one study in type 2 diabetics, 95.2% had managed to reduce or eliminate their glucose-lowering medication within 6 months.
If you are currently on blood sugar lowering medication, then talk to your doctorbefore making changes to your carbohydrate intake, because your dosage may need to be adjusted in order to prevent hypoglycemia.
Bottom Line: The best way to lower blood sugar and insulin levels is to reduce carbohydrate consumption. This is also a very effective way to treat and possibly even reverse type II diabetes.

7. Blood Pressure Tends to go Down

Girl Eating Kebab, Fullsize
Having elevated blood pressure (hypertension) is an important risk factor for many diseases.
This includes heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and many others.
Low-carb diets are an effective way to reduce blood pressure, which should lead to a reduced risk of these diseases and help you live longer.
Bottom Line: Studies show that reducing carbs leads to a significant reduction in blood pressure, which should lead to a reduced risk of many common diseases.

8. Low-Carb Diets Are The Most Effective Treatment Known Against Metabolic Syndrome

Doctor With Thumbs Up
The metabolic syndrome is a medical condition that is highly associated with the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
It is actually a collection of symptoms:
  • Abdominal obesity
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated fasting blood sugar levels
  • High triglycerides
  • Low HDL levels
The good news is… all five symptoms improve dramatically on a low-carb diet.
Unfortunately, the government and major health organization still recommend a low-fat diet for this purpose, which is pretty much useless because it does nothing to address the underlying metabolic problem.
Bottom Line: Low-carb diets effectively reverse all 5 key symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, a serious condition known to predispose people to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

9. Low-Carb Diets Improve The Pattern of LDL Cholesterol

Fish
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is often referred to as the “bad” colesterol (again, it is actually a protein).
It is known that people who have high LDL are much more likely to have heart attacks.
However… what scientists have now learned is that the type of LDL matters. Not all of them are equal.
In this regard, the size of the particles is important. People who have mostly small particles have a high risk of heart disease, while people who have mostly large particles have a low risk.
It turns out that low-carb diets actually turn the LDL particles from small to large, while reducing the number of LDL particles floating around in the bloodstream.
Bottom Line: When you eat a low-carb diet, your LDL particles change from small (bad) LDL to large LDL – which is benign. Cutting carbs may also reduce the number of LDL particles floating around in the bloodstream.

10. Low-Carb Diets Are Therapeutic For Several Brain Disorders

Eggs in a Basket
It is often claimed that glucose is necessary for the brain… and it’s true.
Some part of the brain can only burn glucose. That’s why the liver produces glucose out of protein if we don’t eat any carbs.
But a large part of the brain can also burn ketones, which are formed during starvation or when carbohydrate intake is very low.
This is the mechanism behind the ketogenic diet, which has been used for decades to treat epilepsy in children who don’t respond to drug treatment.
In many cases, this diet can cure children of epilepsy. In one study, over half of children on a ketogenic diet had a greater than 50% reduction in seizures. 16% of the children became seizure free.
Very low-carb/ketogenic diets are now being studied for other brain disorders as well, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

11. Anything Else?

Have you ever tried a low-carb diet? What did you experience, either positive or negative?
Make sure to leave a comment below!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Hydration Fundamentals for Optimal Sport Performance



ENTER IN ALTERNATE TEXT

Proper hydration is an important factor for sustaining a high level of athletic performance. Improper hydration can lead to disappointing results for even the most elite athletes. Though there are a number of factors (including weather, metabolic rate, and type of sport) that can impact the hydration of athletes and negatively affect performance, this article discusses effective strategies and recommendations for maintaining optimal fluid balance.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the basics of hydration and the role of electrolytes in the body.
  2. Comprehend the mechanics of fluid replacement protocols.
  3. Proficiently identify the suggested intake requirements before and during sport to ensure proper hydration. 
One of the biggest challenges athletes face, especially in warmer weather, is maintaining proper hydration. Unfortunately, determining appropriate intake can be overwhelming and confusing for athletes to follow. As personal trainer, it’s critical to keep hydration at the top of your clients’ minds with concise steps and easy guidelines. You can help your clients realize the importance of staying hydrated with some simple tips and tricks for before, during and after sport.

Hydration Regulation within the Body

The main component of blood is water, which delivers a number of substances including oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to the cells and removes waste from the cells. It is also a vital component to your body’s temperature regulating mechanism (Benardot, 2012). Water, along with electrolyte components, controls the osmotic pressure in our body, essentially dictating the amount of intercellular and extracellular fluid.
Fluid levels are regulated by several hormones in our body. These hormones, known as ADH (antidiuretic hormone) and aldosterone, monitor the osmolality of the blood and volume of extracellular water. It’s ADH and aldosterone which stimulate kidney function, adjusting the volume of water and electrolytes either excreted or retained by your body (Rolfes, Pinna & Whitney, 2009). 

The Power of Electrolytes for Athletes

Electrolytes are minerals contained in foods and beverages, which dissolve in the fluids in our body and break into electrically charged ions. There are five chief electrolytes—sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride—which play a role in many body functions including fluid balance, blood pH, heart, nerve and muscle function.
These minerals are electrically charged, which means that they have the ability to conduct electrical impulses. These electrical impulses are essential for physical activity as they are what makes muscles contract. In order to keep muscular, cardiac, nervous, and digestive systems all firing correctly, an adequate supply of all these minerals is required (Rolfes, Pinna & Whitney, 2009).
Sweat rate, through exercise, can induce high levels of water and electrolyte loss. Exact levels depend on both the individual and the environment. Genetically, some people have a predisposition to be heavier and saltier sweaters. Sweat contains electrolytes, with the make-up primarily being sodium in addition to lower levels of potassium, magnesium and calcium (Sawka, 2007). Even endurance athletes who are not heavy sweaters will require more than the upper limit (UL) for sodium (2300mg). Potassium is a mineral important for both electrolyte and fluid balance, and while during sport plasma potassium levels decline at a rate lower than sodium it is recommended that endurance athletes hydrate with a drink that includes both (American Dietetic Association, 2009).

Dehydration and the Athlete

Dehydration is classified as water deficit in excess of 2% to 3% body mass (Benardot, 2012). Low levels of hydration lead to low blood volume. With low blood volume, your body compromises circulation and has poor nutrient exchange, hormone balance and waste removal. When your body’s hydration level drops below 2%, exercise performance is decreased (Sawka, 2007). Therefore, adequate fluid intake both before and during sport is essential for optimal performance and health.
When dehydrated, sodium levels in the blood decrease, resulting in hyponatremia (low sodium). The first signs of hyponatremia include fatigue, headache, weakness and nausea. Additional manifestations include cramping, disorientation and confusion, swelling of extremities, and in extreme cases, swelling of the brain. Cramping can be common in athletes and is a good key indicator that the body has depleted its electrolytes (American Dietetic Association, 2009).

Fluid Replacement for Maintaining Fluid Balance

The goal of hydration before and during sport is to prevent excessive dehydration and changes in electrolyte balance, to ensure that athletic performance is not compromised.

Before an Event

To ensure your athletes go into an event hydrated, they should drink plenty of fluids the day before and morning of an event. It is recommended that 400 to 700 ml (≈2  to 3 cups) of electrolyte or carbohydrate –containing fluid should be ingested 60 to 90 minutes prior to sport. In an event lasting longer than one hour an additional 300 to 600 ml (≈1 to2cups) may be beneficial to the athlete (International Olympic Committee, 2010).

During an event

During exercise, appropriate fluid balance helps sustain athletic performance and replenish losses. The consumption of beverages including electrolytes and carbohydrates can provide benefits beyond pure water alone by helping to sustain electrolyte balance and endurance performance by replenishing glycogen stores.
Planning a hydration schedule helps people remember to continue to drink. A tip for athletes is to hydrate before dehydration levels occur, with recommended drinking rate of two to four ounces every fifteen minutes. Endurance athletes participating a training session or event lasting one hour or more are advised to use a combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates. Beverages containing 4 to 8% (4 to 8g / 100mL or approximately 16 grams per cup of fluid) of carbohydrate are advised in order to provide rapid delivery of fluid and fuel and minimize gastric intolerance (International Olympic Committee, 2010).
The type of carbohydrate recommended is a rapidly digested form of sugar, primarily glucose and fructose, avoiding maltodextrin, which can cause gastric distress to the athlete. The use of a commercial sports drink with electrolytes as well as sucrose or syrups containing no more than 50% glucose or fructose is recommended (American Dietetic Association, 2009).

Replenishing Losses Post-event

After sport it is recommended to measure losses and replenish appropriately. This is an essential part of the recovery process and both water and electrolytes should be replenished. Losses will vary from person to person and a simple at-home assessment of fluid loss can be done to determine exact levels of rehydration that should be met.
A sweat test is an easy way to assess how much fluid should be replaced, and can be done by athletes at their gym or home. To perform a sweat test:
  1. Measure body weight before and after a workout.
  2. Sweat loss (ounces) is equal to body weight (pounds) before exercise minus body weight after exercise. 16 ounces (2 cups) of water should be consumed for every pound that has been lost.
  3. Additionally electrolytes should be replenished. The athlete should consume a minimum of 500mg of sodium per liter of sweat lost.
  4. To convert to a sweat rate per hour, the athlete can divide sweat loss by the exercise time in minutes and multiply by 60 (International Olympic Committee, 2010). 
Hydration is fundamental to athletic performance and the correct electrolyte balance is needed for maximizing results. However, it is important to remember that because the rate of fluid loss is influence so many variables, rehydration is not one-size-fits-all formula, and therefore careful analysis of the individual’s losses is an integral first step in creating a hydration plan. As personal trainers, reminding your client of the importance of hydration will also help build best-practice hydration habits.

References:

Benardot, D. (2012). Advanced Sports Nutrition. Human Kinetics. 2nd ed.
Rolfes, S., Pinna, K., Whitney, E. (2009). Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition. Cengage Learning. 8th ed.
Sawka, M. H. (2007). Exercise and Fluid Replacement Position Stand. American College of Sports Medicine. 39 (2). 377-390. Accessed on 3/10/14 from: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2007/02000/Exercise_and_Fluid_Replacement.22.aspx
American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and American College of Sports Medicine (2009). Joint Position Statement: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.41(3):709-31Accessed 5/20/13 from http://www.dietitians.ca/downloadable-content/public/noap-position-paper.aspx
International Olympic Committee (2010). Nutrition for Athletes. Accessed on 3/12/14 fromhttp://www.olympic.org/documents/reports/en/en_report_833.pdf