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Hydration and sports performance

Hydration and sports performance

Date 27/06/2019


Hydration is more important than caloric intake itself, just as how although we could live several weeks without eating, we could only live a few days without hydrating.

It is usually said that you can practice physical exercise for 90 minutes without food or drink.

But, at this time of year, when the beginning of summer brings hot days and high humidity, the recommendations change and, to avoid significant levels of dehydration, we should always carry some water with us. 

The consequences of dehydration are very serious and even irreversible in some cases.


The exchange of water in the body is continuous and it carries out important functions such as:

  • Removing excess body heat.
  • Eliminating disposable elements (urine, faeces)
  • Facilitating gas exchange in the lungs.
  • Essential to maintain the sense of balance.
  • Softens blows to joints and organs (marrow, brain,...).
  • Keeps blood flowing.

In sports, water is so essential that there are authors who have considered it as an ergogenic aid (increases performance), like Williams in 1985.



If an athlete loses more than 2% of their body weight due to dehydration, it would result in a loss of physical work capacity by 20%. 

If you did not hydrate and lost 3% through dehydration, your muscle contraction capacity would be reduced by 20-30% (for this reason the main cause of cramps is dehydration) and your loss of physical work capacity would fall by 30%. And so on progressively.

If dehydration still continued, it would have a negative influence on the submaximal effort with a reduction in the athlete's workload per minute and an increase in heart rate, in addition to an increase in body temperature. All these negative consequences on sports performance.


The use of water during workouts of less than 2 hours has been shown to reduce the perception of fatigue, lower body temperature and also reduce heart rate. Which is directly related to an increase in performance.

But, in summer, we should not only drink water, but also incorporate mineral salts into our training (don't confuse mineral salts with isotonic drinks; isotonic drinks also contain carbohydrates). The reason for incorporating mineral salts is because sweat from an athlete is made up of 99.5% water and the other components (in order of importance) are:

Sodium, chlorine, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, iron, nickel and iodine.


Therefore, it will be essential that sports and rehydration drinks contain mainly sodium and then contain chlorine, potassium and calcium. The other elements are in such small proportions that they would not be indispensable.

Finally and as a curiosity, we'll show you this table where you will see the different sweat compositions according to whether the athlete is at rest (DD), during the exercise (DE), if they are not acclimated to the heat (DNA) or if they are acclimated to the heat (DSA).


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