Overhydration when working out - how much water should you drink?

With the advent of sports drinks, the emphasis on hydration has never been higher. 

With the advent of sports drinks, the emphasis on hydration has never been higher. But along with that emphasis, there's been an increase in people over-hydrating, getting sick, and in extreme cases actually dying from having too much water in their system. So, how do you know how much you're supposed to drink? Well, I'm Jesse Funk and on today's episode of Runner's High, we're going to talk about exactly how much water you should be drinking when you exercise.

If you watch my video from earlier on how to calculate your sweat rate, then you're already in good shape. You know personally, what you should be doing, and how much water you're losing per hour. If you haven't, then subscribe to the channel, go check that out and then come back. I’ll wait.

Okay. So, now you're back. Hopefully you with me. If you didn't hit the subscribe button, hit the subscribe button. But we'll go on and try to figure out how much water can you actually take in now that you know how much sweat you're losing, how much water you’re losing per hour working out.

In my chat on the Smart Athlete Podcast with Christie Aschwanden and I actually talked to her about this kind of cult-like following this developed via Gatorade and sports drink companies about hydration, and kind of the increase that she's seen in the numbers and the research she went through before bringing out her book on how people are getting sick and some are dying through overhydration, especially in endurance events where they're drinking too much. They think they need to keep taking in liquid and they really do not.

So, how do you need to, you know, figure out what you should be taking in? If you watch that video like I suggested on sweat rate, calculating your sweat rate with me, then you know that I have a particularly high sweat rate around 49 fluid ounces an hour. But you should know that you can't take that much in. So, what's the recommended idea, how do you take in the appropriate amount of liquid?

Sources seem to vary in what exactly they suggest as the average person should take in when they're working out, which is part of why we try to figure out that sweat rate to figure out are we anywhere close. But the general consensus from the research I've looked at seems to be somewhere between 20 and 25 fluid ounces an hour. The big deal is that if you're over that, if you're like me, you’re at 49 fluid ounces lost an hour, if I tried to drink that, I simply couldn't do it. And I could end up in that hypernatremia state where I'm over hydrated and have the potential of making myself sick or worse because I'm putting too much fluid in my body.

So, 20 to 25 fluid ounces is generally a good place to start to figure out okay, my body can take this amount in, not too much, not too little. And then you can make adjustments based on your personal scenario from there. My personal habit when I'm racing a triathlon, which typically is about two hours for me, a little over two hours for Olympic distance is to drink every five minutes on the bike. And this is simply a checkup for me. I have the tendency again, this is my personal habit to want to just sit down and hammer on the bike and totally forget about my water. I can go for the whole bike, just blast it, get on the run and then be dehydrated and just not have the legs to run, be totally bricked.

Well, I have to do that five minute check for me to know that okay, am I thirsty? Get a drink. Am I not thirsty? Okay, I'm fine. I can do another five minutes. But it's kind of a personal check for me. And at that point, I check how do I feel, how does it taste? If it tastes good, and I'm like, clearly I'm thirsty. I'll drink a little bit more. If it is good, but you know, I don't really feel thirsty, a sip is just fine. If I take it and I feel sick then I know that something's off.

It’s possible that I need to take in just plain water instead of my sports drink because maybe the sodium is too high or the electrolytes are too high for me at that particular time. I haven't lost the electrolytes, or I could have taken in too much food and I need something more plain. Or maybe I'm simply not thirsty at all and it's not time to put that extra water in my system. So, that five minutes is a good check for me. In that case, where I don't feel like drinking, I'll go 10 minutes. I’ll say okay, I'll check in 10 minutes how I feel, trying to take another sip and then kind of judge from there.

So, that's my personal tip on how I approach it while racing. But you have to figure out for yourself what works for you and your own scenario. It's going to be different if you're running than if you're cycling because you can take in more when you're cycling because you're not jostling all your insides around. So, what's your experience trying to take in fluid while you're running? Have you dealt with overhydration and end up passing out because you had too much food or too little? I want to know all about your experiences, your tips and tricks, let me know, leave me a comment down below, and maybe I'll share them in a future video. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

Google Pay Mastercard PayPal Shop Pay SOFORT Visa