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

Rehydration after Weigh-Ins

Plan, plan, plan. Yep, I'm telling you guys again about planning and I am keeping with the theme of preparation. It is important for a wrestler to have their plan set for rehydration after weigh-ins. This will include having the proper food and drink you want to consume, as well as having a well planned time schedule. 

The time schedule of rehydrating will help with proper digestion of what you eat, as well as creating a purpose for yourself. It can be easy to mindlessly eat and drink and end up consuming more than you thought, leaving you feeling bloated and uneasy about competing for the day. 

Recognize that the types of food you eat will be important too. Many contain salt to help your body absorb water, as well as sugar to replenish lost energy during a weight cut or hard workouts. 

Your plan will be different for day before or morning of weigh-ins. 

For a day before weigh ins, you will have a much longer time frame to rehydrate. Take advantage of that! Below is a rehydration plan you can follow for optimum results. 


Rehydration schedule for day of weigh-ins:

Weigh In Time: 7am

7am-7:30am:

  • 10 oz of water and 10 oz of sport drink (sipping)

(choose one of these snacks)

  • 4-6 salty crackers, handful of pretzels, or other salty snack 

7:30-8:15:

  • 10 oz water and 10 oz sports drink

(choose 1-2 of these snacks)

  • 1/2-1 banana, 1/2 plain bagel with jam or honey, 1 chocolate pudding, 1 cliff bar  

8:15am:

  • have wrestling shoes on ready to warm up or earlier if directed 

Rehydration schedule day before competition weigh-ins:

Weight In Time: 3pm

3:00-3:30pm:

  •  Drink 10-18 oz of water/sports drink (sipping) 

3:30-4:00pm: 

  • Drink 10-18 oz sports drink

(choose one of these snacks)

  • 5-8 salty crackers, 2 handfuls pretzels or other salty snack, miso or salty soup

4:00-6:00pm: 

  • Drink 12-24 oz of water/sports drink (sipping) 

(choose one of these snacks)

  • 1-2 banana, plain bagel with jam or honey, 1-2 chocolate puddings, or cliff bar

6pm-on: 

  • Dinner, and continue rehydrating up until bed. You should pee before going to bed, urine color should be light. 

If your weigh-in time is later in the evening on the night before, just condense the time you spend on each section so that you can eat an appropriate dinner. As you continue to practice this technique of slowly rehydrating and eating, you will change it to fit your needs. No one knows your body better than you!

7x National Team Member Sara Bahoura wrote a great article for USA Wrestling on rehydration, and the important role it plays in the practice room and leading up to competitions. You can find that article here. It becomes your job as an athlete/wrestler to do the research and learn what others are discussing on rehydration. If you're here reading this article, you're already taking the first steps towards educating yourself! Nice!

Remember that the above information is a guideline. I am not a nutritionist, but have learned the importance of hydration through experience. Wrestling is a high intensity sport that depletes energy stores. The importance is on learning how to rehydrate your body around all aspects of the sport. 

Tell us if you try out this method and how it works for you! 


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Packing Snacks for Your Competition

It can be a daunting task to decide what are the right foods to bring to your competition. Often enough, you wake up in the morning on the day of competition and have no idea what to put in your bag! 

Wrestlers often have a hard time eating throughout a competition day, and sometimes that is okay. We are dealing with nerves, emotions from match to match, and unpredictable changes. Eating large portions at one time can leave your stomach upset and end up on the mat :(

Eating a few bites frequently throughout the day is an awesome way to maintain energy without getting queasy. Your stomach can take time to process and focus solely on the smaller amounts of food. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, when we chew. When we eat smaller bites, we actually tend to eat slower. This means that when we eat small bites, we are actually helping our stomach do less work. This is a strategy for good digestion and for our nervous stomaches on competition day! 

When you are choosing your food for competition day, each small snack should contain a bit of carbs, protein, and fat. The carbs can be a simple sugar, but don’t over do it. Half of an energy bar is perfect (chocolate, nuts, grains). It is helpful to choose foods that spike your blood sugar quickly for in between matches and proteins that can be consumed slowly over time, or for during longer rest periods. Proteins take longer for your stomach to digest, and some of this will be trial and error for you to learn which snacks are best for you at specific times on your competition day. The list above can help you get inspired to pack smart the night before an event.

Let me know what YOU pack for your competition days, and best of luck in your season!!

 

*To see one of my past blogs on some of the science of simple sugars and competition food, read that one here!! *


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One Simple Change: Fueling your workouts and choosing the right food for competition

I seriously struggled with making the right choices when it came to what kinds of foods that would fuel me for my daily training. We are taught initially that “healthy” means salads, but I knew that there was no way a salad would be enough to fuel through grueling wrestling workouts! I knew I needed a different approach to how I looked at food as fuel and what constituted, “healthy.” My sister (Sara, of course you know Sara if you follow FAW!), who is my go-to nutrition guru, help guide me through this muck of nutrition! She told me that if I really wanted to make changes that stuck for GOOD and weren’t just “diet” changes that never last, I needed to make ONE change, and look at eating with diversity.

I started looking at my breakfast: I could eat bagels, pancakes, toast, and I always seemed to get hungry before my 1st practice even began! But then I realized, I was expecting these foods to fuel me for a long time, because all those things are fluffy and initially filling. I was so frustrated going to practice and feeling empty half way through. It was throwing my whole day off, and by lunch I was having to make up for the empty calories from breakfast. I needed a change, and pronto!

I needed to look for something that had the carbs for energy, but that wasn’t just empty calories. What do I mean by empty calories? Well, it’s kind of a term that is loosely used. It basically describes something that breaks down in your body quickly, and then soon after you are hungry. That means, you’re having to eat again in order to sustain more energy. This can be a challenge in a weight class sport and in a extremely energy depleting sport like wrestling! So what kinds of foods hold energy longer than others?

Ok, let’s talk science for a second:

White flower and sugar will break down and enter blood stream quickly (the more simple the sugar/carb is, the higher the spike) and then energy level crashes. A complex carbs break down in your body slower, and that energy will supply you for a longer amount of time.

Now, if i was going into a competition and i needed something to pick me up quickly and to give me energy for a match coming up soon, pancakes would be perfect! My stomach will digest it quickly, which is AWESOME because I don’t want anything sitting in my stomach before I compete. This also means that I will have to fuel again within 45 mins-1 hour, but as we all know, that is often the nature of the beast when it comes to competing!

The great debate about which one is healthier will never get you the right answer. This is about choosing foods that will do a particular job for you.  I needed something that would sustain me for 2 hours, versus 45 minutes. So for me, it was choosing something like oatmeal (a grain and complex carb) over pancakes (white flower and simple carb). I also needed some diversity in my breakfast so I had different fueling sources to choose from. By creating the oatmeal recipe below, I get the diversity I need with the right type of carbs to fuel my morning for a longer period  of time. AWESOME!

Now, dont go running off and looking at every part of your day and start changing everything into complex carbs, protein portions, blah, blah, blah… That is going to make you CRAZY. Just choose ONE thing to change. That will ensure you can slowly incorporate new things into your life that you will like and will turn into a lifelong habit! It’s a journey not a race. Now check out this awesome oatmeal recipe!

  • ½ cup oats
  • ½ tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • 1 and ½ tablespoon of peanut butter
  • ½ - whole banana
  • Drizzle honey

Directions:

Cook the oats as directed. Any type you use is fine. Transfer to bowl. Layer on the chia seeds, pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds), PB, and banana. Make it look like a smiley face :) drizzle on honey and you’re good to go!!