Eat that Watermelon!

For the past week, I have been working under the sun from 8:30-15:30 coaching kids in a triathlon training camp. Hard life right? I love what I do but have you ever felt lazy or sluggish and drained after spending a full day under the sun? You would think that eating as regularly as the kids and that drinking water would do the trick. The question is, have you replenished all of the fluid losses like you keep reminding the kids to do so? Interestingly enough, I was craving watermelon all day and once the fruit was consumed, my body was energized and ready for round two (and three and four).

What has happened in order for my body to feel so sluggish? The answer is that it was dehydrated (See the table below for the symptoms related to the level of dehydration). We often take this subject for granted even if our body is mostly water. Moving all day, working or racing, you should remind yourself to replenish your fluids.

Although drinking water does minimize dehydration, increases in body temperature, stress on your heart and decreases in performance, it is not the only solution. Some books such as “The Feed Zone”, go even out of their way to inform you on the percentage of water in their recipes for race day. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is also a good way to stay on the top of your game (watermelon is not the only fruit that has tons of water).

Sometimes though, too much of a good thing is not always positive. Too much water leads to hyponatremia (sodium concentration in the body that is too low). Symptoms of hyponatremia include bloating, puffiness, nausea, vomiting and headaches. As its severity increases, you will feel disoriented, confused, agitated and you may even die.

What we can learn from this is that you should not only drink water in order to stay hydrated and that you should not abuse of water. You can also use the following recommendations as a guideline for your training and/or racing.

First off, drink enough to balance the amount of fluid loss. Secondly, two hours prior to the event, drink approximately two cups of fluid. Thirdly, drink every 15 to 20 minutes when at a race (do not skip the stations). Fourthly, consume sports drinks that are concentrated in 4-8% in carbohydrates and with sodium in amounts of 0.5 to 0.7 g/L for exercises longer than 1h. Lastly, drink around 2 cups for every pound of body weight lost at exercise. Rehydration is a key component in allowing your body to recover faster.

Hopefully this reminds you that you should think about yourself in order to stay on top of your game. Get to know your body and its needs in hydration before you start any sort of long-distance racing. When you are working outside, making sure that everyone else is hydrated and not you will not help you get the job done. You can see below the symptoms related to the percentage in body weight loss and the different urine colours related to the level of dehydration your body is in. Stay active and stay safe 🙂

% of Body Weight Loss Symptoms
1% Thirst
2% Impairment of cardiovascular and temperature regulation and decrease performance.
5% Discomfort and alternating states of lethargy and nervousness. Irritability, fatigue and loss of appetite.
7% DANGER: Salivating and swallowing food is difficult
10% Ability to walk impaired, discoordination and spasticity
15% Delirium experiences and shriveled skin, decreased urine volume, loss of the ability to swallow food, and difficulty swallowing water.
20% Upper limit of tolerance to dehydration before death. Skin bleeds and cracks.
Exercise Physiology: Human Bioenergetics and Its Applications; Physiology of Sports and Exercise fourth Edition

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