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The Ketogenic Diet for Athletes: Main Pros & Cons

The Ketogenic Diet for Athletes: Main Pros & Cons

Many people are sure that active sports and a keto diet are not compatible. They believe sports records can be set only by absorbing a lot of protein and carbohydrates. So, let’s see how a keto diet training differs from the usual training methods of others.

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

Technically, all types of regular physical activity can be attributed to two types:

  • Aerobic Exercise: Low-intensity and high-duration exercises, such as long-distance running, low-intensity aerobics, walking, and cycling.
  • Anaerobic Exercise: High-intensity and short-duration exercises, such as strength training, Crossfit, and short-distance races.

In a state of ketosis, our body is predisposed to an aerobic type of physical activity. Glycogen, which is stored in the muscles, can be spent in one marathon. But there are great fat reserves in the body of even a very slender person. So there will be enough ketones for a very long period of physical activity.

Team Athletes

Keto Diet and Strength Training

First of all, let’s determine for what purpose you are using a combination of a keto diet plan for athletes and strength training.

Option A: You are already on a ketogenic diet and would like to increase muscle mass and strength. In this case, it is worth keeping a positive balance of daily calorie intake; taking into account regular training, and maintaining the perfect keto ratio of 20/75/5. Sometimes, a slight shift towards protein is precisely recommended in cases where the goal is to increase muscle mass. Read some reviews on the best keto protein powder to learn more. Also, your proportions may change slightly to 25% of calories from protein, 70% of calories from fat, and 5% of calories from carbohydrates.

Option B: While in ketosis, you are trying to reduce body weight, in particular, get rid of excess body fat. Here, of course, the calorie balance should be negative while maintaining the same classic keto ratio of 20/75/5.

How to Build Mass >>

How to get Lean >>

Keto Training Details

However, no matter which option you choose, the pros and cons of the keto diet during strength training remain the same and comply with the following parameters:

  • Training frequency: No more than 2-3 times per week. After several weeks from the beginning of strength training, it is advisable to break the trainable muscle groups by days – training each muscle group once a week.
  • Selection of Exercises: Without a doubt, preference should be given to compound exercises. Ideally, these should be free-weight exercises. But if you replace them with exercise machines due to poor technique or old injuries, this would be a worthy alternative.
  • Repetition Mode: It is optimal to adhere to a range of 5-8 repetitions in working sets. You should select your working weight within two sets into the exercise.
  • Training Duration: Workouts should not exceed one hour, provided that you exercise at a calm pace. Thus, you will get 5-6 exercises for 3-4 sets.

Compliance with the above principles is due to the essence of the impact of strength training on a keto diet for athletes.

Understand that the main task of this type of load on the musculoskeletal system is to stimulate the production of hormones – testosterone and growth hormone. This production begins after the training is complete, and the rest and recovery phase begins. That is why strength training should not be frequent.

Intermittent fasting, with the right approach, in combination with a keto diet, will help in the production of growth hormone.

Get a Workout Plan >>

Conclusion

Our advice is to treat regular strength training as a daily routine. This is precisely the place it should occupy in your life. And most importantly, remember: the main influence on metabolic processes is not in what to eat before your workout on a keto diet, but after – in the recovery period. And special attention must be given to the quality of recovery. First of all, use stress-reduction techniques and take care of healthy sleep.

Do you practice keto diet and strength training? Do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section!

About the Author: My name is Adam Reeve and I have been a professional personal trainer and fitness instructor for over 10 years. Also, I’m a life coach, wellness writer, and low carb diets, enthusiast.

How to Lose Weight >>

Fat Loss Forever >>

Keto Diet – 7 Unexpected Health Benefits

7 Unexpected Health Benefits of the Keto Diet

People have been flocking to the Keto Diet in recent years because of its reputation for enhanced weight loss. And a survey of dieticians in the United States in 2020 showed that the Low-Carb Ketogenic Diet will continue to be the most popular fat loss diet this year. But there are tons of other health benefits of Keto apart from total weight loss.

You might already know that ketogenic diets were actually developed to reduce symptoms in epilepsy patients. Or that Keto can help to boost your immune system function. However, there are lots of other unexpected health benefits that are contributing to the Keto diet reigning supreme.

So, here are seven other unexpected health benefits of the Keto diet…


1 – Lowered Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

On a ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are cut to just 5% of your daily food intake. High-fat and low-carb intake is part of the keto basics. Your body usually breaks down carbs to produce glycogen which fuels your body. On Keto, the high fat intake and reduced carb intake trains your body to start burning fat into chemical compounds called ketones for energy instead.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops as a response to overconsuming sugary and starchy foods. Eating too much of these foods causes your pancreas to make high levels of insulin in an attempt to regulate blood sugar levels. When your insulin levels are consistent that high, your body becomes resistant to insulin which is a key marker of Type 2 diabetes.

But on the Keto diet, your body is not relying on carbs and sugar for energy. The drop glucose helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and therefore lower insulin levels. Doctors often recommend lower carbohydrate intake for patients with Type 2 diabetes, and studies have shown that the Keto diet helps to improve weight loss and reduce insulin levels.


2 – Alleviation of Depression & Anxiety Symptoms

Depression and anxiety are closely linked to the brain. And early research has begun to establish a link between ketogenic diets and the alleviation of typical symptoms of these common conditions.

A study conducted on rats showed promising results. Low physical activity is a common symptom of depression in people. In this study, one group of rats were put on a ketogenic diet. Those rats showed similar results to other groups of rats that had been treated with antidepressants. The scientists concluded that the Keto group were less likely to show “behavioral despair.”

In another study, one group of pregnant mice were fed ketogenic diets while another group was fed a standard diet. The mice born to the Keto group were more active physically than their standard diet counterparts.

The exact link between Keto and depression and anxiety has not been established. But anecdotal feedback among people who suffer from depression and anxiety has been very positive so far.


Improved Sleep Quality

3 – Improved Sleep Quality

In the short term, Keto can actually have a negative impact on your sleep. This is most likely due to lower levels of serotonin and melanin. But these symptoms are short-lived. And research suggests that in the long term Keto can lead to better quality, deeper sleep.

Once you transition into ketosis (when your body is primarily burning fat into ketones for energy), your body settles down into better sleep patterns. Not only does Keto result in a deeper sleep and increased time in the all-important REM cycle, but a study by the International League Against Epilepsy found that people on Keto diets also needed less sleep time.

Learn more about proper sleep >>


4 – Healthier Liver Function

Fatty liver is a chronic condition that can lead to very serious health implications including cirrhosis of the liver, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It’s also a condition that affects around 25% of adults in the Western world.

Two significant research studies have shown that low-carb diets, such as the Keto Diet, can quickly and dramatically reduce liver fat and the risk of these conditions. The first was a small study but produced highly compelling results. Participants experienced a massive loss of liver fat when following a low carbohydrate diet.

In another study, patients following a ketogenic diet showed significant improvement in the risk for non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFLD), liver scarring, and a 60% reduction in liver fat.


5 – Increased Brain Function

In the early twentieth century, ketogenic diets were developed to help relieve symptoms in epilepsy patients with groundbreaking results. More recently, studies suggest a link between the Keto diet and reduced risk for other neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease amongst others.

Some followers of Keto experience alleviation of chronic ailments like headaches and sleep disorders. It also has the potential to decrease the risk of certain brain cancers.

The science behind Keto and improved brain function is complex and not conclusively established. But scientist’s early research suggests the production of certain chemicals and ketones interact differently with the brain as a more efficient energy source.


Cardiovascular Health

6 – Healthier Cardiovascular System

Following the Keto diet has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health and may help prevent heart disease. However, this health benefit is closely linked to the nutrition sources used by Keto diet followers. It’s vital that your high fat intake is achieved from healthy sources and the “right” type of fat.

For example, a study in 2010 found that, between two low-carb diet groups, those that sourced their fats from vegetables and rich Omega-3 fatty acid foods decreased the risk of heart disease by 23% more than those who sourced fats mostly from meats.

To derive cardiovascular health benefits from Keto, it’s essential to source fats from unprocessed options like avocado, salmon, and nuts.

Learn more about proper Diet >>


7 – Improves Acne

Much of the evidence that says ketogenic diets improve acne is largely anecdotal. However, when you examine what we know about how acne flare-ups are triggered, combined with conclusive biological changes due to ketogenic diets, the effect of Keto on acne makes sense.

Acne is caused by a build-up of excess oil on the skin through sebaceous glands. This causes blockages in the pores which result in acne breakouts.

In one small study, it was found that diets low on the glycemic index reduced insulin levels and androgens (male hormones) which contributed to a reduction in acne. Keto is also proven to reduce inflammation in the body. And since inflammation can drive acne flare-ups, it’s logical that this may be a contributing factor in how ketogenic diets alleviate acne symptoms.

It’s pretty clear that the benefits of ketogenic diets go far beyond weight loss. So, if you’ve been thinking of trying Keto to eat clean and improve your general health and wellness, give it a try!


Keto Diet Starter Guide

Get started on your Ketogenic Journey today with this awesome infographic from TotalShape.com.

The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Starter Guide - Infographic

More Readings:

Don’t forget to get a Workout Program >>

SHREDDED How To Get Lean

SHREDDED

How to Get Lean and Cut

If you workout, then we know you want to get SHREDDED; aka Lean, Cut, Aesthetic, Defined and Muscular. I mean, who doesn’t want to have 6-pack abs to show off? The thing is, as with everything in life, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. This article will go over the best way of how to get lean while maintaining your hard-earned muscle mass. So, then you can look like Bruce Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or the new Bodybuilding Mr. Olympia sooner than you think!

First: Get the best program for SHREDDED Lean Muscle! >>

Shredded How To Get Lean and Cut Fast

Read Part 1: JACKED Muscle Plan – How To Get Bigger! >>

First, this article is a continuation of our previous article, JACKED – How to get Big and Strong. In that article, we discuss your basal metabolic rate, activities for muscular growth and nutritional concepts to manipulate your weight. If you have not done so already, I recommend you go back to that article first to get a base for what we discuss here. Then you will have a basic understanding of how to get bigger and build muscle mass, properly.

This article will teach you how to maintain your muscle mass while losing body fat. So then you will look lean and shredded like a pro bodybuilder!


What does it mean to be SHREDDED?

So what do we mean by getting SHREDDED?

What most people want to do when losing weight or getting leaner is lose body fat while maintaining, or even increasing, muscle mass. This helps to give an aesthetic look that shows off the muscle you have already built. But, oftentimes people have a non-optimal way they go about losing body fat that also decreases their muscle mass.

So, before getting into the details of how to get lean, let’s review a little…

Metabolism Basics

“To lose weight you simply must eat fewer calories than you use.”

First, to lose weight you simply must eat fewer calories than you expend through your basal metabolic rate and daily activity, or exercise.

Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories you expend without activity, or at rest. This rate can be raised by increasing your muscle mass; as muscle is calorie expensive tissue compared to body fat. That means your body has to work to maintain your muscle mass where fat tissue just sits around. This puts stress on your body to keep your muscles working.

So, if you want to increase or maintain muscle mass while losing weight, you must give it a reason to stay. You can do this by placing stress on the muscles, forcing them to be maintained.

Then, if you want to gain weight, you just have to eat more calories than you use daily. However, if you don’t stimulate muscle growth, then the extra calories will be stored as body fat.

This is the basis for using muscle mass to your advantage when manipulating your body weight. 

Designed for Survival

Our bodies are designed very efficiently and only have one goal in mind…survival. So, our body systems work in unison for us to be able to survive out in the wild on our own.

With this in mind, we were not designed to have a plentiful supply of food throughout the day. We can see this through our ability to absorb almost all of the nutrients we consume and our capacity to store body fat.

Our bodies were designed to be ready for fasting, or starved states. So everything we consume is absorbed and what we do not use is stored.

Body Fat Is Necessary

Knowing this, we can see that storing excess calories as body fat is a necessary adaptation for survival. However, that does not always fit into the current aesthetic goals of most people today.

Many people of today want to lose body fat but maintain muscle so that they can look good, or SHREDDED. The problem is our body does not care how we look. It just wants to survive. And, unless properly stimulated, body fat is more valuable to survival than muscle.

This is because muscle is energy costing and vascular, or has blood vessels. These characteristics of muscle make it difficult to maintain compared to body fat; which is stored energy that can be used for survival when needed.

This poses a problem for those trying to maintain their muscle while losing weight. But there is a solution…exercise!

How To Lose Weight

Overall, losing bodyweight is an easy concept to understand. It is just the opposite of gaining size. You just have to eat fewer calories than you expend daily.

This is easier said than done because many people do not like to feel hungry.

Still, what do people do to lose weight? They eat less and start to exercise more by doing a ton of “cardio”. This can work, but it is not the best way for your health or long term success.

If you exercise more, you must eat more, or be in caloric balance, to adapt to the new workload. Otherwise, you will not have enough energy to workout as hard as you should. Then you will lose muscle mass due to lack of nutrients.

Also, “cardio” is not the best way to lose weight.

Weight Training vs. Cardio

“Cardio burns calories today, muscle burns calories forever.”

Doing cardio is great for burning calories but it does not have long-lasting effects extending beyond 24-48 hours after training.

Think of this…cardio burns calories today, muscle burns calories forever. What that means is that when you do cardio you burn calories during and shortly after. However, the effects will wear off within 24-48 hours, depending on the intensity. Then you will have to do another session to get the same results.

When building muscle, though, the new muscle burns calories during your training session and every day thereafter as long as you maintain it.

Of course, resistance training and cardiovascular training should be used together to present the greatest results.

Shredded Lean Muscle Workout Program

SHREDDED Muscle Workout Programs:

The Best Muscle Building Workout Program! >>

All Strength Training Programs. >>

Train With Intensity

Just remember that whatever you do, it must be intense.

Resistance training must be intense enough to stimulate the muscle to grow or maintain itself. And your cardio should be done as high-intensity intervals. That form of cardio helps to maintain muscle mass while burning the most fat.

Overall, it is better to use muscle stimulating training that will cause growth in combination with some intense cardio training, such as sprint intervals, to obtain the greatest overall calorie deficit.

Training vs. Dieting

“Weight loss is NOT 10% training and 90% diet!”

How many times have you heard people say something like, “Weight loss is 10% training and 90% diet.”?

I’m here to tell you that is not true. Not even close! How can it be? Diet has limits much smaller than that of exercise. Plus, you do not get the same adaptations through diet as you do for exercise.

Diet affects your energy balance, but exercise affects everything.

Exercise influences your energy balance, muscular growth, hormonal changes, cardiovascular system, digestive system, central nervous system and so much more!

Still, don’t believe it?

Let’s think of it like this…an elite athlete is going to look like an elite athlete even on a poor diet. However, a sedentary person will not get a 6-pack no matter their diet.

Sedentary means “without exercise”. And remember, Walking is NOT Exercise!

Sedentary vs. Active

“When it comes down to it, exercise is what makes people look lean and SHREDDED.”

Sedentary individuals can be lean but they cannot have a strong muscular look without some form of exercise to create muscular growth. This is because diet does not influence your body as much as exercise and activity do.

Yet, it almost doesn’t matter what an endurance athlete eats because their energy expenditure is so high that even if they only eat what we consider to be “unhealthy”, they will still have low body fat. Assuming that their caloric intake to energy expenditure is balanced.

However, a sedentary individual that is in caloric and energy balance, meaning they eat the same amount of calories they expend through their basal metabolic rate and any activity, will be much more likely to lose muscle and gain body fat even on a healthy diet.

Diet only plays a role in energy balance and performance but has minimal influence on your ability to lose body fat alone.

Exercise, however, plays a major role in stimulating muscle and reducing body fat. So, when it comes down to it, exercise is what makes people look lean and SHREDDED.

Stimulate Your Muscles

Again, losing weight is as simple as eating fewer calories than you use to survive on or use for activity. This is true, but when losing overall weight on a caloric deficit you will likely lose muscle faster than you lose fat unless you give it proper stimulus.

If you stimulate your muscles for growth or at least put enough stress on them to be maintained, then you will lose less muscle and more body fat.

Again, your body just wants to survive. So if you put stress on your muscles to where they need to adapt by growing you will maintain your muscle mass while using your body fat to balance your caloric deficit.

This is beneficial in two ways: by allowing you to maintain your muscle mass and burning more body fat than you would have without the exercise.

Bodybuilding Workout Program to get Lean

SHREDDED Workout Plans:

Fat Burning and Muscle Building Workout Program! >>

Home Bodyweight Workout Program. >>

All Workout Programs. >>

Cut Back Calories

Now in order for this to work the best, and allow for the least muscle loss, you must make only small, incremental changes over a long period of time.

After you have built yourself up enough by eating enough to maintain your current activity load, then you can start cutting back calories to lose body fat.

You should start by being in a 200-500 calorie deficit while training in order to start losing weight. Then, only drop another 200-500 calories after it has stopped working. I recommend you start with 200 calorie change, then adjust as needed.

This should occur while doing intense exercises such as strength training, sports training or intense cardiovascular exercise, like sprints.

Whatever you choose, the exercise MUST be intense. Without enough intensity and volume, as discussed in the previous article, your muscle will not have enough of a reason to be maintained.

Also, you must continuously increase your total workload, so your body to be forced into muscular adaptation or maintenance.

With a caloric deficit and intense training, you can force your body to survive in a low body fat state, making you look lean and SHREDDED!

Eat More and Exercise More

“Eat more, exercise more, and then start to drop weight.”

For most people trying to lose weight, it is best to simply start increasing their workload through exercise. Start small and progressively increase over time for the best results.

As you increase your activity, you should actually eat more before trying to lose weight. This allows your body to adapt to the stresses of exercise while increasing your basal metabolic rate, before decreasing body fat. Basically, you need more calories to meet the energy needs of your new activity level.

Then, by eating more you will increase your muscle mass and basal metabolic rate so you can eat more calories than before. This allows you to have more room for free eating, or cheat meals. Then you can stay satisfied with little effect on your total caloric balance.

Which would you rather be?

This can be best viewed by thinking of two situations.

Situation #1: An individual trying to lose weight eats 2,000 calories daily on average. Then they cut out 500 calories per day to be in a deficit. After they plateau, they then cut out another 500 calories to lose more weight. They are now down to 1,000 calories per day which greatly limits the amount of food they can have to reach their nutrient needs and poses health risks.

Situation #2: An individual exercises and eats more calories until they reach a 3,000 calorie daily balance. They then have a much greater amount of calories they can cut down on to lose weight while still getting in enough food to be satisfied and healthy. Not to mention, they also gained more size and strength in the process. So, when they cut back calories they have more room for adjustments. Plus more drops they can do. And that is how the IFBB pro Bodybuilders do it, so it obviously works!

So the best approach is, eat more and exercise more, first. Then you can start to decrease your caloric intake by 200-500 calories while maintaining the same workload.

This allows you to eat more than you would have previously so that you can feel more satiated, while still allowing you to lose weight.

Eat more, exercise more, and then start to drop weight.

Final Notes on How To Get Lean

So, the next time you start on your goal to look lean and SHREDDED or hear of someone trying to lose bodyweight, you have an idea of what it takes.

I recommend anyone trying to get leaner does so with a partner. You can make each other accountable and help each other during the times when it gets hard. Just remember, consistency is the key.

Exercise intensely while consuming appropriate amounts of calories before starting to slowly decrease calories over time. As you reach your goals, keep training hard but then you may begin to eat more so that you are in caloric balance with your activity level, or excess to build muscle.

I wish you the best of luck and remember to keep getting stronger!

Read Part 1: JACKED Muscle Plan – How To Get Bigger! >>


SHREDDED Workout Plans:

Fat Burning and Muscle Building Workout Program! >>

Home Bodyweight Workout Program. >>

All Workout Programs. >>

Strong Muscle Mass

Related Get Lean Articles:

6-Steps to Fat Loss Forever! >>

RIPPED – How to get 6-Pack Abs! >>

Keto Diet – 7 Unexpected Health Benefits >>


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Diet and Exercise Made Simple

Diet and Exercise Made Simple

We all know diet and exercise are important. However, it doesn’t have to be hard! So many people make it out to be much harder than it really is. If you just do a little planning and put in the effort, your health and weight loss goals can be accomplished. 


Which is more important…diet OR exercise?

We all want to know! What is it?! What is more important for getting leaner, stronger, and for me to reach my health and fitness goals fastest? Do I need to focus more on diet OR exercise?

Answer: Neither!

Neither diet nor exercise trump the other. They are BOTH important if you want to reach your strength, health and fitness goals! They both work together to help create a healthy body. If you do one or the other well with little regard towards the other, you will not get near the results as if you worked both together. 

“Your diet helps to amplify the effects of exercise…”

Have you ever heard something like, “You can’t out exercise a bad diet”? Well, though exercise is highly valuable, and burns a ton of calories, it’s too easy for us to eat more calories than we can burn off. Also, if you have a bad diet, you likely will not have the energy to exercise enough to maintain a healthy body.


Have A Good Diet

Your diet helps to amplify the effects of exercise and gives you the energy to perform at your best. So, in order to perform your best, YOU NEED A GOOD DIET!

That doesn’t mean you should be stuck eating bland foods like chicken and broccoli every day, but you should put more thought into it than “oh look, ice cream has 2g of protein in it!”.

Your calories and their sources matter. Have a reasonable amount of fats, carbs, and protein if you want to perform your best and get the most out of your workouts.

DO NOT make one nutrient out to be “bad” and another the only thing you concern yourself with. Find an equal balance that fits your lifestyle and stick to it with little variation.


Do Real Exercise

“If you want to create change, you have to do things that are harder than walking your dog.”

If you don’t exercise you aren’t going to change much of anything. You can’t diet your way to a 6-pack while just sitting around or going through everyday activities. You need some amount of exercise no matter how clean your diet is.

Exercise not only burns calories, but it also creates numerous changes in your body, including hormonal, that changes how your diet affects you. If you want to look like you are fit and workout, then guess what? You’re gonna have to exercise, and exercise enough to create change.

WALKING DOES NOT COUNT!

Walking Is NOT Exercise!

If you want to create change, you have to do things that are harder than walking your dog! Even if you walk your dog uphill, that is still not considered exercise.

Do some strength training, go for a run, do calisthenics at home, cycle, or anything you enjoy. Do it multiple times per week and put in some strong effort so you can get some great results. This will amplify your results as your diet and exercise routine work together to create the most amount of change within your body. 


Make Progress Every Day

“You can do 1 push-up or squat today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next day and so on.”

Your diet and exercise routine doesn’t have to be complex. Let it be simple.

Let go of the excuses, we all can make them, and get started today. Right now is the time to make a change. Tomorrow is too late!

Get up and do SOMETHING! Anything! Just move and work towards becoming stronger!

Start easy and progress forward by doing just a little more each day. You can do 1 push-up or squat today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next day and so on.

You can run for 1 minute today, 2 tomorrow, 3 the next day and so on.

The Daily 30 is also a great choice and it was made specifically for beginners!

Whatever you do, continue to improve daily. Doing the same thing over and over will give you little results, plus it’s boring. Do something every day and work towards your goals!


Make Small Diet and Exercise Changes

“Most of us overeat at night due to under-eating throughout the day.”

When it comes to diet and exercise, keep it simple! Start with a simple diet change, like taking a multivitamin or drinking an extra glass of water every morning. Then you can move onto adding in a healthy snack during the day. Such as some fruit, vegetables or some nuts.

YES, I did say “add in” a meal before I said to take anything away. This is because most of us overeat at night due to under-eating throughout the day. If you add in a healthy snack/meal during the day when you need the energy, you will tend to eat less as night, which will make a big difference in itself!

For exercise, start with doing some push-ups, planks, squats, jogging, the Daily 30 or something! You MUST EXERCISE if you want to create change! This tends to be the hardest part for everyone, but it is extremely important! Diet and exercise go together.

Take it slow, but make a change! Your world starts to change the moment you start changing it! So let’s get to it!

Your world starts to change the moment you start changing it!”

Keep getting stronger my friends!

Strength to you,

Ryan J. Mathias

Owner and Creator of MathiasMethod.com

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Hydration for Athletes and Lifters

Hydration for Athletes and Lifters

What is Hydration?

First, hydration is a balance of fluids in the body or having adequate fluids within the body tissues. There are many factors which affect the balance of fluids within the body as our systems are constantly functioning and changing. Your fluid balance will change depending upon activity, temperature, electrolyte balance, fluids consumed and many other factors. So make sure to follow good hydration practices for optimal performance and health.

Good Hydration Practices:

  • Always carry fluids with you.
  • Consume water regularly throughout the day.
  • Drink 1 Liter of water within one hour of first waking up.
  • Drink at least 0.7oz X Bodyweight of water during active days.
  • Consume 1/2 Liter of a 6% saturated (60g per 1 Liter) solution of carbohydrates in sodium water (400-500mg per Liter) for each hour of your training.
  • Consume an extra 1 Liter of water, or more, when exposed to hot conditions.

Effects of Dehydration

Hydration is important because even a slightly dehydrated fluid balance can have negative effects on your body’s systems, health, and overall performance.

The effects of dehydration affect all tissues within the body. The blood is the smallest fluid compartment in the body and regulates the fluid within the surrounding cells. So fluid loss affects the cardiac system the most. This is due to a decrease in blood plasma volume, which holds a large amount of oxygen and allows for normal cardiac output.

This loss also decreases the blood flow to the skin. This mechanism is used to cool the blood and decreases sweat rate, therefore, decreasing core temperature. An increase in core temperature increases the likelihood of heat exhaustion and other dangerous heat-related illness.

Effects on Performance

The effects of dehydration can also have a great effect on athletic performance.

1A fluid loss of even 2-3% (% of body weight) can decrease your VO2 Max (aerobic performance/ the amount of oxygen the body can use) by 5% and fluid loss of 5% can decrease work capacity by 30% (fluid loss % based upon body weight). Those are major effects occurring after only slight dehydration.

The effects of dehydration are a major concern for endurance athletes that compete continuously for over 1 hour, but there is also a concern for athletes performing high-intensity exercise. 1It has been found that a fluid loss of only 2.5%, prior to exercise, can decrease the capacity for high-intensity exercises, such as sprinting or powerlifting, by 45%. That is nearly half of the athlete’s work capacity decreased just by not staying hydrated before performing.

Even for non-active individuals, hydration is important for proper body function. A constant state of dehydration leads to:

  • frequent headaches or migraines
  • rough skin
  • decreased muscular function
  • decreased joint function
  • joint pain
  • decreased kidney function
  • and multiple health problems

Many health and performance concerns can be alleviated by simply staying hydrated daily.


How to Stay Hydrated

Luckily, our bodies are smart and they do not give up fluid easily. So normal hydration is not difficult to maintain.

The kidneys filter your blood, removing waste, and maintain proper fluid balance within the body. There is a constant battle between the pull of fluids inside the body versus the pull of fluids out of the body. The side which has the most pull will take most of the fluids. If the pull is too great in one direction or the other, there is an imbalance that will have negative effects.

To be in fluid balance, the pull of fluids out of the body should be equal, or slightly greater, than the pull of fluids inside the body. If the pull of fluids is shifted towards a pull inside the body, then you are in a state of dehydration. This pull allows the body to maintain a constant blood plasma volume. Which then brings fluids to all other cells within the body.

The pull of fluids out of the body is based on the number of waste products that need to be removed through the urine. If there is a greater pull of fluids out of the body through urine then you are either hydrated or there is a major amount of waste product that needs to be removed. This waste can be excess sodium, or other electrolytes, proteins and nitrogen from broken down cells, or toxins within the body. 

Your body wants to get rid of these particles but needs water as a transport. So the more you workout and break down tissue, the more fluid you need to get rid of the waste.

Salt, Water, and Sugar

In the kidneys, Sodium, Water and Glucose are filtered together and move together. One of the major functions of sodium, an electrolyte [Na+], is to help maintain fluid balance within the body’s cells.

In the body, water follows sodium in order to maintain a constant concentration gradient (or fluid balance). This is from comparing particles in and out of the cells.

Also, for every gram of carbohydrates in the body, in the form of glycogen, there are 2.7g of water attached to it. This gives sugary sports drinks an advantage for hydration. If there are sodium and carbohydrates within a water-based drink, such as sports drinks, then there is a large pull towards fluids inside the body during absorption and filtration. This is why it is important to utilize appropriately concentrated sports drinks during long-duration exercise to stay hydrated.

However, that does not mean you always need a sports drink to stay hydrated. You have to earn it! If you are not doing intense exercise for at least one hour, then all you need is water for hydration. Only excessive and exhausting exercise requires more.

The most optimal concentration of carbohydrates in water for hydration is 6% concentration. That is 6g per 100mL or 60g of carbohydrates per Liter of water. The amount of sodium needed within the solution varies depending upon the individual, but it is also an important part of replenishment. The standard sodium content should be enough to taste like Ocean water or about 400-500mg per Liter of water.

It was also found that cold fluids moved through the stomach faster allowing for faster absorption in the intestines. So keep fluids cool during exercise, when possible.

The Perfect Hydrating Drink

To stay hydrated during exercise sessions exceeding one hour, continuous or not, drink ½ Liter of cool water with about 30g of fast digesting carbohydrates, in the form of sugar, for every hour of activity.

Throughout the day manage fluid intake by consuming water. You should consume the same amount of water that you lose throughout the day so that fluid in equal fluids out. This will help to maintain a state of hydration while allowing for urine production to remove waste products.

For individuals with a high activity level, drink a minimum of 0.7oz per pound of bodyweight to stay hydrated while removing the waste product from excessive muscle contractions.

During hot days, consume at least one extra Liter of water to account for the excess fluid loss from skin dissipation or sweat.


Final Thoughts

Overall, staying hydrated is not difficult but if neglected it can have major negative effects on your body’s ability to perform and function properly.

The first step to hydration is being prepared. If you are going to be away from a water source for a long period then carry enough fluids with you. Think ahead and know what you need to consume for the activity you are doing.

Also, learn to enjoy water. You should not constantly be craving water, as that is a sign of dehydration. However, you should not dread every drink you take. Water should make up a majority of the fluid you drink so have no complaints about the taste.

It takes some dedication to consume a large amount of fluid daily for active individuals. However, it takes the same dedication to be fit and healthy. By neglecting to stay hydrated you are neglecting to maintain a healthy functioning body. Just be consistent and you will find it is not as hard as you may think.

Stay strong, stay healthy, and stay hydrated.


Credits:

1 = Gleeson, M. Ph.D., Jeukendrup, A. Ph.D. (2010) Sports Nutrition, Second Edition. Excerpt.

http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/dehydration-and-its-effects-on-performance

For more on hydration, watch this video!