Keeping Young Athletes
By Cindy Milner, RD,
days of spring, summer and early fall increase the risk of dehydration for
young athletes. Active teens and
children often fail to recognize and respond to the signs of dehydration such
as; thirst, fatigue, irritability, cramps and headaches. Dehydration, if allowed to progress, can lead
to dangerous health consequences, such as heat stroke. However, even relatively
mild dehydration, a loss of just 2% of body weight from fluid loses by sweating
and evaporative loses during exercise, can contribute to fatigue and impaired
important to guard against dehydration, the opposite extreme of over-hydration,
is also not recommended. Over-consuming
fluids may leave the athlete feeling bloated and uncomfortable during training
The goal for
all athletes is appropriate hydration
to meet their fluid needs while avoiding both under- and over-hydration.
Here are some hydration tips to guide
your young athletes:
playing! It’s very hard to “catch-up” on
your fluid needs if you begin exercise dehydrated. This is especially important on hot days and
when doing multiple training sessions or events per day.
Consume large glass of water or sports drink (about 14–20
ounces or 400–600 ml) two to four hours before training or competing.
During the school
year, carry a water bottle with you to drink throughout the day and stop
frequently for sips at the water fountain between classes.
urine color to ensure adequate hydration. Urine should be pale yellow (the
color of lemonade).
If you are prone
to muscle cramps, you may lose a lot of salt in your sweat. Athletes who are
“salty sweaters” often benefit from adding extra salt to their diet during
periods of intense training. Salty
sweaters should choose salty snacks and foods, like pretzels, pickles or soups
and broth, and add a little extra salt to their meals when training intensely,
especially in hot weather.
exercise lasting less than an hour, water is generally adequate and appropriate
if training is intense, involves intervals or is longer than 1 hour, consuming
a source of carbohydrate during exercise has been shown to improve
performance. Sports drinks are a good
choice because they provide both carbohydrate and fluid.
in training to identify the amount
of fluid you can comfortably drink while exercising. Know the types and amounts of fluids that
work best for you prior to competition.
Many athletes require about 13–26 fl oz (400–800 ml) every
hour of exercise, preferably in smaller amounts taken frequently, such as 3–7
fl oz (roughly, ½ to 1 cup of liquid or 100–200 ml) every 15 minutes or so.
Drink from your own sport bottle so you can easily track
your fluid intake and, of course, decrease the chance of spreading germs from
you should check your weight before and after exercise. For each pound lost during exercise, drink
about 20 oz (2 ½ cups) of fluid.
general, water is adequate for rehydration. However, if you need to hydrate
quickly to compete or practice multiple times in one day, or if you have lost a
large amount of fluid, drinks that contain sodium and a small amount of
carbohydrate, like sports drinks, will provide quicker rehydration.
lots of fruits and vegetables! These
high water content foods also provide fluids to help with rehydration.
hydration choices for immediately after intense
exercise provide protein and carbohydrate to help with muscle healing and
glycogen (carbohydrate stores) restoration, as well as fluid. Some fluid suggestions that contain fluid, protein
and carbohydrate are low-fat chocolate milk, specialty “recovery drinks” (i.e.
Gatorade Recovery), or yogurt smoothies.
athletes may need more specific or individualized guidance to help them
maximize their sports fueling and hydration.
Consulting with a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietitian (CSSD) at
Cayuga Performance Center can provide that competitive edge. Contact Cayuga Sports Medicine and Athletic
Performance at (607) 252-3580 or www.cayugamed.org for more information.