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Fluid Replacement in Athletes: How Much Is Too Much?


With an eye on prevention, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) says that adequate fluid replacement helps maintain hydration and, therefore, promotes the health, safety, and optimal physical performance of individuals participating in regular physical activity. The ACSM's general recommendations detail the amount and composition of fluid that should be ingested in preparation for, during, and after exercise or athletic competition.

A 1998 study published in the British Journal Sports Medicine concludes that "athletes should take their fluids orally, not intravenously -- if, that is, they are truly dehydrated and in need of rehydration."

Stoddard believes one of the best ways for athletes to get replenished is with one of the newer sports drinks that are formulated with higher electrolytes than the drinks developed back in the 1970s. "There's a new generation of drinks coming out soon," he says. As eastern medical director for the Iron Man Canada and medical director for the Subaru Triathlon Series, Stoddard is preparing to launch one of the new sports drinks.

Vital Information:

  • Hyponatremia occurs when the body becomes over-hydrated, causing a depletion of sodium in the body.
  • The incidence of hyponatremia has risen with the advent of ultradistance triathlons and Iron Man competitions.
  • Athletes can eat potassium-rich foods and drink sports drinks that contain enough sodium and potassium to replace what has been lost in sweat.

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