Hydration for Young Athletes, News (Kitchener Soccer Club)

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Hydration for Young Athletes
Submitted By Danielle Byers on Monday, June 18, 2018
It's recommended that young athletes drink at least 10-16 ounces of water 2 hours before exercising, and then another 8-16 ounces about 15 minutes before their game or practice.  Keep in mind, however, that even “perfect” hydration practices before a game can’t make up for chronic dehydration throughout the rest of the week, and athletes should try and stay consistently hydrated, even on non-activity days.

Click Read More for more information on keeping your young athlete hydrated this summer! 

Can Young Athletes Just Wait Until They're Thirsty To Drink Water?

Often, athletes will wait until they are thirsty to begin drinking water. However, thirst is not an accurate indicator of a need for fluids, and athletes who wait to drink water until that point are already dehydrated.

Most individuals do not become thirsty until more than 2% of body weight is lost. By this time, performance may have already begun to decline.

What About Sports Drinks?

Most young athletes are not training or competing at an intensity that warrants drinking anything other than water. For those extra-intense times, though, a sports drink containing carbohydrates may be a helpful source of energy, but mainly during or after exercise (not before).

Sports drinks contain a small amount of sodium and electrolytes, which are beneficial for absorbing liquids quickly and replacing what is lost in sweat.

If your athlete has never had a sports drink but insists on trying them, don’t drink one for the first time on competition day.  Instead, have them try different fluids and amounts during practices until they discover a balance that works best for them.

Are Pre Game Energy Drinks A Good Idea?

In short, no.

Typically, energy drinks refer to drinks such as Red Bull and Monster that contain large amounts of caffeine and sugar. Sports drinks like Gatorade, while containing sugar, do not typically contain any caffeine.

Caffeine is a stimulant that raises your heart rate even when you aren’t exercising. Despite how they might be marketed, energy drinks, and their boatloads of caffeine and sugar, are a terrible choice before any kind of exercise. Sadly, these drinks have been cited in a large number of instances of youth athletes suffering from cardiac arrest, and even death.

If you can’t tell if a specific beverage is a sports drink or an energy drink, check the label: legitimate sports drinks (like Gatorade) will always carry a Nutrition Facts label. However, due to lax labeling policies, energy drinks on the other hand could carry either a Supplement Facts label or a Nutrition Facts label, so you’ll need to inspect further. If the item contains caffeine (especially in large amounts) and uses marketing buzzwords like “pump”, “buzz”, and “wired” then it’s probably an energy drink.

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