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Hydration Protocol

Lovejoy ISD Sports Medicine Hydration Protocol to Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses



  • Water is the most important but least emphasized nutrient.
  • Fluid intake is important to prevent hypohydration (insufficient body water)
  • Over-consumption of water without adequate replacement of sodium in extreme endurance athletes can lead to hyponatremia (water intoxication) and can be fatal. Extreme endurance athletes should not be advised to “drink as much water as you can”.
  • Gastrointestinal absorption of fluid is approximately 30 ml per minute, but the loss of fluid in sweat is approximately 50 ml per minute.  This means that fluid loss will outpace fluid intake.


Pre-workout hydration phase

  • Athletes will be encouraged to drink water throughout the day. We strongly encourage our athletes to bring water bottles to school so that they will have water while in class.
  • Drink 2 cups of water 2-3 hours before practice.  Athletes practicing or competing for more than one hour in duration should consume 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups of Gatorade 2-3 hours before practice.


During workout hydration phase

  • Goals:
    • Prevent hypo-hydration
    • Delay fatigue
    • Minimize heat illness
  • Athletes should consume 2 cups of fluids every 15-20 minutes for the duration of practice or competition (preferably 1 cup or Gatorade and 1 cup of water).  For those who are only practicing or competing for 1 hour or less, 2 cups of cold water is good because it is absorbed quickly and is well tolerated.


Post-Workout hydration phase

  • Weighing before and after practicing should be an indicator of how much water you have lost as a result of practice.
  • “A pint a pound” is the common slogan used to remind athletes that for each pound (0.5 kg) of bodyweight lost, a pint (2 cups) of fluid should be consumed.
  • Other important means by which to assess hydration status:
    • Thirst
      • If you are thirsty it is too late.  By this time you have already become dehydrated (1-2 liters).
    • Urine Color
      • Urine should be clear or a light shade of yellow.  If your urine is dark yellow then this is one sign that you are dehydrated.
  • The fluid of choice after an intense workout or competition should be a carbohydrate/electrolyte solution (i.e., Gatorade) as this is a time that glycogen levels are low in the skeletal muscles and liver.  The literature has shown that carbohydrate (in solution) makes the liquid taste better while sodium drives the thirst mechanism (read: makes you want to drink more).