Are there special hydration needs of combat sport athletes?

Hydration recommendations for combat sport athletes are the same as all athletes, but combat athletes need to pay strict attention to the guidelines when practicing or playing in hot environments, which will dramatically increase sweat losses. Exercising in high heat can increase sweat rates up to three-fold, causing some athletes to lose two to three liters of fluids in one hour. This makes fluid intake before and during practice/games for combat athletes of the utmost importance. Additionally, the sensation of thirst occurs when the water deficit is ~2% of body mass. Performance can start being impaired at a water loss of 1%, suggesting our natural mechanisms cannot keep up with exercise-induced fluid losses in order to maximize training outcomes. In other words, performance is affected before we trigger thirst so prepare with the following guidelines:

General Fluid Requirements

• Fluids should be cold, palatable, selected based on the type and duration of the activity

• Sports drinks should contain 4-8% carbohydrate

• Avoid solutions containing primarily fructose, they can cause an upset stomach

Pre-exercise Guidelines

• Drink approximately 16 to 24 ounces of fluid two hours before activity

• On warm or humid days, drink an additional 8-16oz 30-60min before activity

• Water is adequate for activities less than 1hr as long as meals are consumed regularly

• For endurance events, training sessions longer than 60 minutes, or multiple practices a day, choose a sport drink containing four to eight percent carbohydrate (e.g. Gatorade)

During Exercise

• Depending on your sport, consume 3-6oz of water or sports drink every 15 minutes (possibly more in hot weather). This equates to approximately 32 ounces per hour

• For prolonged exercise greater than 60min, choose a sports drink with small amounts of electrolytes

Post-exercise Guidelines

• Immediately following activity, drink at least 16-20oz of fluid for every pound of weight lost to ensure proper rehydration

• A liquid shake containing carbohydrate & protein can refuel energy stores and maximize recovery after demanding training bouts. Consume this as soon as possible after workouts or events:

• Drink an additional 16 ounces with your post workout meal. This meal should be consumed within two hours after activity

•  Weigh each morning. A fairly stable weight generally indicates proper fluid balance

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