BIG Nutrition: Hydration—It’s more than just water


BIG Nutrition: Hydration—It’s more than just water

waterbottle-225x300And the heat and humidity are back….

With Boston’s hottest month of the year (July) behind us, I thought I could set my water bottle down for a few minutes. But the heat and humidity are back! This got me thinking about rehydrating, especially in hot weather, meaning not only water loss during a WOD, but also valuable electrolyte loss.

So, how much water do you need?

Having water throughout the day is recommended, and in particular, water is needed before AND after a WOD. This example is for a person weighing 160 lbs.

  • Throughout a day: At a minimum, drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. Consume at least 80 ounces of water per day.
  • Before a WOD: Consume 320-640 mL (10-20 ounces) in the 2-4 hours before the workout (2-4 milliliters/lb of body weight in the 2-4 hours before a workout is sufficient for most people).
  • After a WOD: Consume water, as needed, so that your urine is pale yellow. You can weigh before and after exercise to estimate your fluid loss. Consume 1.25-1.5 L for every 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of body weight lost.

Which electrolytes are you losing?

The primary electrolytes lost in sweat are sodium and chloride, and to a lesser extent, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. You can get these through a snack or meal that you consume after the WOD. Make sure there is salt in what you eat, ~ 100 mg or more in one serving of a packaged food or 1/8th tsp. of added salt. Some foods have naturally occurring sodium—two large stalks of celery OR two large carrots (100 mg), 8 oz. of milk (110 mg) OR 5 oz. Greek yogurt (60 mg), an egg (60 mg), 1 tbsp. hummus (60 mg)—just to name a few. If you sweat A LOT, you need even more sodium.

Do you need a commercial sport drink?

For athletes that do a one-hour CrossFit workout a day, a sport drink is not needed. Water, followed by food will do the trick. For athletes doing multiple CrossFit WODs in a day, endurance sports (e.g., marathons or triathalons), those who find it difficult to eat before or after exercise, or those who exercise and have an occupation where sweat loss is high, then a sport drink may be warranted.

Recipe please?

Not a fan of plain water? Here are some ideas for flavoring water; just remember to eat a snack or meal within 1-2 hours of your workout. If you do opt for a sport drink, but want something a bit easier on the wallet or less artificial, try these recipes for homemade versions.

Happy and healthful eating,

Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN


Unsure how to time your eating and fluids around WODs and work? Contact me at [email protected]