When you’re pushing extremes in the heat of competition, cramping is a monster from which there is no hiding; when it finds you – you’re bit. You hydrate, intake potassium, and stretch well; you do all the right things but you still get attacked by the Cramp Monster. Maybe the best shield against monsters isn’t a shield at all – but a moat of tailor made hydration plans. (boom. drop the mic. – I metaphored like a pro! – pick up the mic and drop it again. boom.)
In a report by David Ayotte and Michael P. Corcoran entitled Individualized hydration plans improve performance outcomes for collegiate athletes engaging in in-season training in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2018, Volume 15 – the researchers conclude that a Personalized Hydration Plan (PHP) can improve performance…and not by a little.
Okay, I hear you, nerds. I know PHP means something else to us – but we’re going with PHP for Personal Hydration Plan because that is the term used by the researchers.
What is a Personalized Hydration Plan?
In short, a personalized hydration plan improves heart rate recovery time, awareness, attention, and improves anaerobic power. The plan is based on the individual athlete’s specific loss rate of fluid and sodium. Typically, during a workout or competition, the PHP prescribes that the participant drink a certain quantity of liquid with a particular amount of sodium about every 15 minutes.
How is a PHP established?
The amount of salt and water lost during exercise is measured for each individual thereby giving the researchers the basis for quantity and solution makeup (recipe) of re-hydration beverage required for each session.
What about Sports Drinks?
Sports drinks were utilized in this study and found that 20 year old athletes that go hard for 45-90 minute workouts are not getting enough sodium or fluid even when they drink Lemon Lime Gatorade – the best tasting sports drink on the market (full disclosure, nobody paid me to say that – it really is my favorite). To supplement the sports drink of choice, the study added enough salt to the drink to create a solution that was isotonic (contained the same concentration of salt as what was lost through sweating).
What about water?
Water is great. We love water. Everyone loves water – except Mitch. Mitch doesn’t drink water – he gets his water intake through food, like a cat. You probably don’t know Mitch, so I’ll just move on. Yes, water works just as well as a sports drink…if you add salt. You can’t just salt to taste, though – you need to find your baseline. How much salt does your sweat contain? How much do you sweat during rigorous exercise? Just like the sports drink, if you can get used to the taste, yeah – water is great…for watering your lawn (that last part added by Mitch).
How do I put this all together?
- Assess your sweat content.
- Assess your sweat loss during your typical workout.
- Calculate your isotonic solution.
- Break up your solution into increments of 15 minutes. For example, if you workout for 90 minutes – you’ll drink the solution 6 times. Further example: if you need to drink 75 ounces of solution in 90 minutes, at each 15 minute interval you should drink 12.5 ounces of solution.
- Use a different word than solution or brine for your refreshing beverage.
If you are interested in learning more about Personalized Hydration Plans, you can read the full report following the link here. This was just a TLDR version of the full report by David Ayotte Jr and Michael P. Corcoran that was posted in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN) published on June 4th, 2018. The report is available under the Creative Commons license.