For athletes, a very important part of their training is their nutrition. But it can be difficult to get the right nutrition plan as the internet can be both very informative or completely wrong. Even dieticians and trainers have different opinions.
To choose the right nutrition plan, it is important that athletes know the myths surrounding nutrition.
Being 100% hydrated for maximum performance
A very common piece of advice we come across is that you need to be completely hydrated in order to get the most out of your workout. However, dehydration during training is natural, as you lose a lot of fluids through sweating.
Sweating is an essential part of training. It is almost impossible and a complete waste of time to try to replace all the fluid you lose during training while you are training.
Science has proven that being naturally hydrated from exercising doesn’t have any effect on your performance. Only when you pass into moderate-to-severe dehydration does your performance begin to decline.
The best strategy is thus to drink when you are thirsty to prevent the dehydration from getting worse and to replenish the fluids you have lost after your workout.
Pure water works best
Another hydrating myth is that pure water is the best way to hydrate. But water doesn’t always provide the nutrients athletes need to replenish.
When we sweat, we also lose a lot of electrolytes, something water can’t top up. It is better to drink electrolyte-rich drinks or to eat fruits like watermelon and coconut.
Electrolyte-loading (like carbo-loading)
Athletes tend to pre-load electrolytes as they do with carbs before a race to compensate for what they lose during the race. Your kidneys regulate sodium and other electrolytes very efficiently. This means that if we eat more sodium than we need, it isn’t absorbed and gets flushed out of the system. This makes the notion of pre-loading null and void.
Carbo-loading happens the night before
Some athletes think that carbo-loading means consuming as much pasta you can the night before a race. This can’t be more wrong. In fact, if you do this, your entire metabolic system will fight against every effort of exercise you make the next day, as it can be difficult to process that many carbs out of nowhere.
Carbo-loading usually requires a combination of exercise while increasing your carbohydrates consumption over a few days.
Thirst is an indication of dehydration
While thirst certainly does mean you are dehydrated, it can sometimes be too late. Science has shown that the thirst mechanism in humans isn’t as reliable as we think. It can often kick in when you have already reached moderate-to-severe dehydration.
It is important to hydrate regularly, even if you aren’t thirsty yet.
It can be easy to fall victim to what you read on the internet. There are a lot of myths around nutrition, especially on carbo-loading and dehydration. The best course of action would be to consult a qualified dietician or trainer and do some research into what they are saying.