How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?

How many of you have been coached to get through a wrestling practice with minimum or no water breaks? 🙋 My hand is raised. The old-school mentality on hydration has certainly been challenged more recently, especially in the wrestling world. The notion that you are a tougher athlete when you don't take water breaks is thankfully on its way out. Gone are the days where drinking water is seen as a weakness. In a sport where every little inch counts, it's been proven that proper hydration leads to better performance physically and mentally. So how we make sure we are drinking enough water?

When you only drink enough to quench your thirst throughout the day, you may not be adequately hydrated. Thirst is not the best indicator of how much fluids you have already lost. How do you lose fluids? Through sweat and through breathing. Taking this into consideration, you should be conscious about your fluid intake throughout an entire day and not only at practice. You won't be hydrated because you drank water while you were sweating at practice. Here are the best tips for working on your hydration.

1. Have a water bottle

Carry a re-fillable water bottle with you that makes it easy to consume liquids. I have stuck to water bottles with a straw, as it motivates me to drink more water due to the convenience. You should aim to drink around 90 ounces a day. As you increase your work-load in the practice room, up your intake accordingly. Adding electrolytes like nuun hydration or other hydration methods can be helpful when you need extra support. Look for drink mixes that have potassium and sodium, and contain almost no ingredients you cannot pronounce. Drink almost a full water bottle (16-20 ounces) two hours before practice, and the same amount after practice. 

2. Weigh yourself

Check your weight before and after practice to monitor how much fluids you have lost. For every pound lost, drink 3 cups of fluid in order to rehydrate. After consistently doing this for a week, you should have a good understanding of how much weight you typically loose during a practice and how much fluids need to be replaced.

3. Take sips

During practice is not time to take big gulps. Feeling full and bloated is not the goal of becoming hydrated, nor should it be the goal to replace your fluids the moment you sweat it out. You should be sipping throughout practice so that you are not uncomfortable. Keep your bottle close by the wrestling mat or workout room so you can grab it quickly at break times. This is something you should also apply during your competition day as well as around weigh-ins. Having a re-hydration schedule like this one, can help ensure you don't fall off track.

TEAM USA- USOC

4. Check on color

The easiest way to know if you are getting enough fluids is by checking the color of your urine. By using the hydration chart from Team USA, you can judge where your hydration levels are throughout the day. Make sure you catch the early signs of dehydration like pulse rate, dizziness, headaches, nausea, lack of sweating, fatigue, and cramping. If you are noticing any of these symptoms early on, immediately drink two liters of fluid to alleviate the possibilities of dehydration worsening. 

Meal Planning Simplified

Food is typically a contentious topic in wrestling. There's the team that believes you should wrestle at your natural weight, and the other team which believes that cutting weight is more advantageous. However, cutting extreme amounts of weight will not provide an athlete's sustainability for a match or for a career. 

Nutrition for wrestlers is the key to success that takes your game to a new level. In previous posts, we've discussed strategies around eating at home, at competition, the mentality around why we eat like we do, and a lot on the importance of hydration. We have inched closer and closer to breaking down what we should eat at meal times, and this concept is called plate models. 

Three Versions of Plate Modeling

First, let's learn about the three versions of the plate model. The pictures below are the same images we have used for years at the Olympic Training Center. It's what the Team USA dietitians use to educate elite athletes to help clarify the best choices based on their training phase. Just because you are an elite athlete, it doesn't mean you automatically understand the best way to fuel. This takes practice! If you notice in each picture the choices repeat, but the portions of each food group changes. 

The key to success is consistency. Whether you're at home, a friend's house, or a buffet, you need to try your best to follow these models and maintain a balanced diet.

1) Easy training/weight management 

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When you have a light day or an off day, the level of energy you are expelling is much less. The easy training plate is divided into 3 sections. 1/4 of the plate is devoted to protein, another 1/4 to whole grains (i.e. carbs), and 1/2 of the plate are fruits and vegetables. On the blog with Othella Lucas, she discussed the importance of eating a variety of color. Here is your chance! If you typically go the salad direction for you vegetable choice, notice dressings are included in the healthy fats area. You should know what is in your dressing! Try making your own so you can control what it's made from (store bought dressings have extra ingredients like sugar and a lot of preservatives!). Olive oil, vinegars, mustards, lemon, and honey are some of the ingredients you can combine to make your own salad dressing.

Notice the dotted line for weight management. If you are doing light training or taking time off but need to maintain your healthy weight, decrease grains by 1/4 and increase protein by the same amount. Many of you may be thinking, shouldn't i exclude carbohydrates entirely? My question to you is, you're still breathing right? You have a certain amount of calories that you expel every day called your resting metabolic rate. You can think of it as the calories you will burn if you laid on the coach all day and just breathed. But lets not do that. The more weight training you have done, the higher your muscle tone and the higher your resting metabolic rate will be. This is why you need carbohydrates! Your body is still operating, and the muscle you already have needs energy through food to sustain it. 

2) Moderate training 

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This kind of training consists of around 2 workouts a day, with one workout being technically focused and the other endurance. This plate model will be your base line from whether you need to adjust up or down based on work load. Compared to a light training day, grains have increased and should be consumed in equal amounts to your vegetables. 

Protein intake during moderate training has remained the same. This does not include the need to add a recovery option with protein 30-60 minutes after training to help support muscle recovery. A peanut butter sandwich, chocolate milk, or cereal with milk or yogurt are great options post-workout. Re-fueling around workouts is a great time for your body to absorb the nutrients it needs, as well as fluids with a rehydration component. 

When foods are rich in fiber (i.e. fruits, vegetables, and carbs) and you consume whole grain carbohydrates (these take longer to digest and help you remain fuller, longer), you are doing your part to help maintain a healthy body weight and prevent insulin spikes. When you eat carbohydrates which contain more sugars and less grains, your blood glucose is spiked and you become hungry again, faster. This means you have to keep eating more "white" carbohydrates in order to remain full. This is a lesson in reading labels and eating proper amounts of fruits and veggies. Focus on consuming around 25 grams of fiber throughout the day. 

Even though these plate models don't discuss it, be sure that you are waking up and eating a balanced breakfast. You need to replace what you lost during an overnight fast by replenishing your blood sugar, or glucose levels, as well as glycogen (carbohydrates) and fluids. Eating breakfast sets up your day with more energy, and will decrease that extreme hunger pains you get later in the day which cause a lot of snacking. Options for breakfast include: vegetable omelete with whole grain toast, waffles with peanut butter and fruit smoothie, peanut butter bagel and fruit smoothie, oatmeal with dried fruit/nuts, one egg with two pieces whole grain toast and fruit. 

3) Hard training/competition day

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When the workload has increased, your food choices need to reflect that change. Training should have 2 relatively hard workouts, or competition. During competition (and after proper weight management), you require extra fuel from carbohydrates. This should be reflected in food choices during the event, and the day after the event. Proper rehydration during hard training and competition is key, especially for wrestlers. See the rehydration schedule for more on hydration. Keep things as close to the original whole food as possible, and keep things simple. Here are a few more tips when working on your food choices throughout any of these models:

When you consume saturated and trans fats, these foods can increase inflammation and decrease recovery. This means staying away from highly processed foods. The more the protein or fat has been processed or fried, the less it provides the recovery your body needs. Lean proteins, fish, avocados, nuts, seeds and olives are great alternatives when temped to go processed. 

Vitamin and mineral dense (also rich in antioxidants) foods can support your immune system during intense training. This means choosing fruits and vegetables with a variety of rich and dense colors. You know that kale craze going on? Well besides the the fact that its over played, the general public is not far off on kale's ability to be rich in vitamins due to its deep color. Think of iceberg lettuce as your baseline for zero vitamins and minerals, and kale as the Rolls-Royce of vegetable choices. 

Notice throughout the models, high sugar rehydration drinks are not included. This is because they should never be consumed along with your daily meals. However, rehydration is extremely important My first recommendation is to start reading the labels of the recovery drinks you already consume. Does it contain ingredients you cannot pronounce? Try to find a better option. Potassium and sodium are the two components which are key to rehydration. These should be consumed during or directly after a workout. 

As always, seek advice from a medical doctor or sport dietician for any food restrictions, allergies, or medical specifications. This is only a general guideline to be used as part of your research towards a model that works best for you. Only a medical or nutrition professional can create an individual plan specifically for you and your needs. 



7 Tips to Prevent Overeating

Wrestlers and athletes spend years learning how to eat better for performance, and then transfer that knowledge to life. Once you've weeded through all the nutritional knowledge, you'll find that a few tips are tried and true. Below are techniques that help with learning your body, and how to appropriately portion your meals throughout the day. 

Start your day with 1 glass of water

Wrestlers need a lot of water to stay properly hydrated. Our workouts consist of high intensity burns that include a lot of sweat and often is not replaced. Besides needing the fluid for sweat, water helps support the functions of our organs. Stay on top of your hydration to optimize your performance by drinking 1 glass of water as soon as you wake up. This sets the tone for your day as you should plan to continue to drink 2 glasses around each meal. This will help keep you fuller longer and ready to sweat at practice. 

Include protein in each meal 

Protein helps you stay fuller, longer. Including protein in your snacks can be beneficial to help prevent overeating at meals. This category includes chicken, fish, beef, eggs, dairy products, beans, and nuts. Be diverse in your protein intakes, and use a protein supplement for when you cannot consume enough protein in your snacks or meals, or as a convenient tool around training sessions. A protein supplement will also be a great tool for athletes who are vegetarians or vegans. 

Focus on 5-6 meals a day 

There have been many studies which concluded that eating smaller meals more often has lead to less over eating. For athletes, this is also a great way to avoid the midday hunger pains. High level athletes will eat almost every 2-3 hours depending on how many calories they burn. Remember, as your muscle mass increases, so does your metabolism. Make sure to eat before and after each workout. 

Use visual cues when building your plate 

How often have you been to an all you can eat buffet and stacked your plate with food you had no business even trying to eat? I know my eyes have been bigger than my stomach! When you have visual queues for your portion sizes, it becomes helpful when filing your plate at home or in any situation. Your protein choice should be about the size of a deck of cards or the size your palm. Carbohydrates should be about the size of your fist, and the rest can be filled with vegetables (I know you ALL eat your vegetables). Healthy fats such as nuts and oils should fit in about 2 spoonfuls. 

Meal prep to help prevent raiding the pantry 

Meal prepping is becoming a great tool for athletes and everyone in between. It helps limit choices, and you will always have your staples of a favorite protein, veg, and carb available for a meal. When you know what you are eating, you won't turn to unhealthy snacking before the next meal. You also won't have that worry about being full enough, as long as you are meal prepping efficiently. Check out the blog I wrote on how to meal prep for beginners here

Make your own snack packs 

There is nothing worse than being in a major hunger emergency. If you are in the middle or end of your season, you are getting in awesome shape and starting to burn the most amount of calories. This means your body will be demanding nutrients every 2-3 hours to sustain all that muscle mass you have put on. Don't get caught in a place where having a nutritionally balanced snack is not on hand and fast food or unhealthy choices are your only option. Check out the blog here on great snack options. 

Start a food journal

This is not a calorie counter. Let me say this again: this is not a calorie counter! A food journal is a tool that helps you recognize patterns. It is very difficult to make changes in the way you eat if you don't have a clear understanding of your habits. I used a food journal when I needed to go up a weight class and I had to find opportunities to add more nutrition, even when I didn't think it existed. They only way I was able to find change was by journaling and reflecting on my habits over weeks and months. If you have goals to include more water and more vegetables in your nutrition, you need to know where you have a deficit to make up. Log what you eat for meals, snacks, and how much water you drink. Don't try and eat perfect for the journal's sake, eat how you normally do so you can actually make improvements.

5 Items You Shouldn't Forget for Competition

For every sport competition, we have our typical packing list of must haves: uniform, food, water, lucky socks. But the more we compete, the more we find ourselves in situations where we didn't have what we needed. And even though we try and buffer for most situations, not everyone knows what to pack just in case. Here are the 5 items you should never forget to bring with you to a competition.

Athletic Tape

There are basic uses for tape that don't require you to become an athletic trainer. You can tape your fingers when they've been jammed, or for joint areas when you need extra support. Other than its intended purpose to tape injuries, the uses for athletic tape can be endless! It can be used for a headgear strap that broke and needs a quick repair, for shoe laces that cannot be loose, for your teammate who ripped their singlet strap, or to repair a broken hair tie when it was your last one! Athletic tape is useful due to its ability to be ripped into half its width. I'm sure you will find even more creative uses than I have!

The Emergency Kit

Your kit should include any medicines (cold medicines for overnight trips) or personal necessities you may need when you have a weekend at a competition. What is often overlooked are the things we think we can buy if we end up needing them, like feminine hygiene products. We never think our period will start during the middle of a tournament... and then it DOES! First thing in your kit should be extra underwear for that unexpected leak, or even for after the competition is over. Bring a variety of tampons, pads, and period underwear (it's the hot new thing, check out Thinx Panties). You never know what you will prefer on the day of competition, and you don't want to be without the options. Even if you've brought more than enough variety of feminine hygiene products for yourself, you'll always have a teammate who has forgotten her own supply. She most likely also didn't anticipate beginning her period on the day of the tournament!

Extra Tee Shirt

I was told years ago by a coach the importance of feeling fresh after the morning warm up before competition, and to always have new clothes to change into. Since then, I always have extras so I am not sitting around in my sweaty warm up clothing. At the very least, having an extra tee shirt to change into after the warm up will help give the mentality of further prepping and preparing to be fresh for competition. Anything that gives you a psychological edge over your competition is always a good thing. 

Rehydration Convenience

If you are depending on a coach or parent to get to a store and get the hydration you need, that might be your first mistake. Depending on others to provide what you know is best for you could result in you not having enough for the day, or ::gasp!:: the wrong type of drink entirely! Now that may sound sarcastic, but having proper hydration is critical. If someone bought the team Gatorade and you only like Powerade, becoming dehydrated helps no one. Be responsible for what you know you need and have it with you in travel packet form. This way it's conveniently always in your competition bag and you can easily mix it into water.

Massage Recovery Tools

Today we have much better understanding about how the body works and how to recover in between workouts. Competition is no exception. After sitting in a gym all day, re-warming up in between matches, and wrestling multiple times in a day, it's important to help those aches and pains. There are a lot of tools you can utilize, but I have a few favorites that work best. A mini travel foam roller, tennis or lacrosse ball to roll out tight areas and knots, or a massage stick roller are amazing products. You can see me hauling almost all my massage tools to each competition. See below for my favorites!

It's Nuun O'Clock: Hydration at it's Best

It can be so, so hard to stay hydrated sometimes! Especially if you live in drier climates (ahem, Colorado), it can feel nearly impossible. During high intensity training camps where the volume can mean wrestling 4+ hours a day, plus strength training and extra conditioning, I am usually seen lugging a gallon jug of water around. Not practical, but it does the job. Before this and after many lessons of being frustrated with pee the color of dead grass, I started working on ways to make sure that hydration was a thing of convenience. 

But first, lets talk about the not-so-obvious reasons you should stay hydrated and what helps keep you hydrated.

Protein

If you are someone who is not always focused on hydration, but focused on higher levels of protein intake, then woa nelly you better work on hydration as a priority. When you intake protein, you need seven times the amount of water normally needed in order to process those aminos. And this doesn't just include those of you who take protein supplements. If your day to day diet is high in protein, your hydration level will decrease as your protein level increases. The suggested dietary intake of fluids for active adults are 2.7 liters for women, and 3.7 liters for men. If you are not close to this amount and you already increased or are thinking about increasing your protein, maybe it's time to start carrying your own gallon jug of water. 

Salt and Potassium 

We talk about electrolytes ALL THE TIME. Have you seen that movie Idiocracy? In the movie, the world is getting dumber because no one is educated anymore. EVERYONE drinks "Brondo," (basically Gatorade) and when the main character asks for water, he gets the answer, "you mean from the toilet??" They can't grow anything because they keep watering the plants with Brondo. Their explanation: "Electrolytes! It's what they need!!" Now the plants certainly don't need electrolytes, but you do! And do we actually know what electrolytes are? It's the perfect happy couple combo called salt and potassium!

Now, how to apply the yin and yang of "S&P" benefits to hydration. If you have been drinking a lot of water, but have not been able to get out of the dead grass zone, you may want to look at what you are drinking AND eating. Salt and potassium combined help regulate fluid retention and are major contributors to the normal functioning of your cells, digestion, and organs. Both are lost through sweat and urination. That means, we need to continually focus on drinking fluids that contain both, as well as eating the right foods. It is extremely common for the average American to have low potassium. Salt on the other hand is not typically something we are worried about, as American diets are heavy in convenience foods, and salt is used as a preservative (check the labels on your foods and start seeing how many miligrams of salt are contained!) Potassium is found in fruits like bananas, citrus, and melons, and vegetables like leafy greens and broccoli. If those are all things you avoid, start getting out of your comfort zone! It is so so important to eat the right things as an athlete and for the rest of your life for normal body functioning! 

Whenever I travel internationally for competition and training, I would notice I had a hard time staying hydrated. It made staying hydrated for competition 10x more difficult as I was already dehydrated going in. I was advised to focus not only on my salt intake, but also my potassium. This was a real game changer in the way I traveled and was prepared for competition. I started focusing on foods rich in potassium, even going out of my way to grab a banana before a flight. I also started arming myself with the right hydration supplements. I wanted to find a supplement that was low in sugar, but higher in salt and potassium. Travel is difficult, so the easier I made the process to rehydrate, the better my chances became! 

Hydration Convenience and Nuun 

I love traveling light. The more I can streamline the tools I travel with, the less chance I leave something on the plane (and trust me, I've left too many things already on planes). Also the more streamlined, the more likely I will actually use the tools I bring! There was no way I was going to buy and bring an entire extra bottle of fluids on the plane, or lug that around while I'm traveling. That's expensive, time consuming, and risky if you cant find what you need in another state or country. 

I wanted something that could last me an entire trip, had the right kind of ingredients, and was small and convenient. That's where Nuun came in! Wow, when I found Nuun tablets, I knew I would get myself on a whole new level of hydration. They come in a tube with 10 tablets, and each one makes a 16oz sports drink. I don't know how many times I dealt with messy powder in a plastic bag that would rip and then I'd be out my hydration method! I love that I can plop a tablet in a cup of water while I'm on the airplane or have it in my bag on competition day or at the gym.  The flavors they come in are DELICIOUS, and the ingredient list does not have all the extra junk you do not need that show up in much more common hydration methods like Pedialyte and Gatorade. 

Here's the listed ingredients for Nuun:

  • Sodium: 360 mg.
  • Potassium: 100 mg.
  • Magnesium: 25 mg.
  • Calcium: 13 mg.
  • Vitamin C: 38 mg.
  • 10 calories.
  • 1 g of sugar.

Find the right method for yourself, but be aware of the many hydration options out there and why they may not be a good choice. It can be so easy to go towards mainstream products and brands you immediately recognize. Why choose Nuun over a product you know and you can grab at the gas station? Here's why: just as we've become more aware of what kinds of foods to put in our bodies, we can also cannot be ignorant about what kinds of sports drinks we consume. They are not all created equal. The big companies are not as worried about what kinds of sugars or additives are in their sports drinks. When you are consistently drinking high fructose corn syrup, dyes, additives, and flavoring, the rehydration benefits will not outweigh the nutrition losses. Why else do you think they taste so darn great?! Lots and lots of sugar! And in no way should you ever, EVER consumer sugary sports drinks as a normal daily beverage. 

The big lesson here, read the labels and start doing your research. Once I made it a habit of having healthy hydration methods always in my bag or along with me for the day, I started having a lot less problems. I found a huge improvement in the way I felt and in my digestion. Start looking at your hydration from both a food and drink perspective, and you'll start reaping the benefits! 

Katherine