CrossFit Enthusiasts - What’s Your HQ (Hydration Quotient)?

If you are a CrossFit enthusiast, I can assume a few things. First, you are athletic. Second, you take your fitness seriously and aren’t half-assing it at the gym. Third, you push yourself. CrossFitters are dedicated, work hard and perform well. As much as you put into your workouts and training, can you say you put the same effort into your nutrition and specifically, your hydration.

Hydration isn’t something to mess around with. Athletes of every sport learn early what dehydration can do to the body and performance. No matter how hard you train, if you’re dehydrated, your performance is going to suffer. You simply cannot work out at your maximum potential when your body is starved of fluids and nutrients.

Related: Heat + Hydration: What to Look for and How to Prevent It

For many athletes with coaches and trainers, hydration is an integral part of the regimen. CrossFitters, however, don’t always have the same level of attention. That means it’s up to you to educate yourself and know your own body. What’s right for the other guy in the gym likely isn’t right for you.

While there are many “experts” out there who will tell you their advice on how to stay hydrated, many aren’t considering the fact that every body is different. They may tell you to drink half your body weight in ounces or drink until your pee is clear. Others may tell you exact ounces to drink before, during and after your workouts. The integral part they are missing is that there are dozens of variables that will compromise those suggestions.

Your gender, body weight, sweat rate, level of exertion, climate (including ambient temperature and humidity), elevation, heart rate, and age all contribute to your hydration needs. Is your CrossFit coach monitoring all of those variables before suggesting your ideal fluid intake needs? Likely not.


Related: The 6 Things Every Athlete (And Wannabe) Should Know about Hydration

Another variable related to your own body chemistry is your electrolyte levels. Everyone has differing sodium and potassium levels as well as requirements. The more and longer you sweat, the more those nutrients are depleted and need to be replaced. But what do you drink and when?

Most experts believe you should supplement with electrolytes if you are exerting yourself for more than one hour. The type of electrolytes you drink, however, matters. Many electrolyte drinks and powders contain lots of other ingredients that can actually cause harm, such as gastrointestinal discomfort. If they are highly concentrated flavored beverages, that’s a big clue. They can also contain caffeine and other stimulants, sugar, artificial sweeteners and colors, preservatives and a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce. As hard as you’re working out, are these really the fluids you want to replenish your cells and muscles?

Here are a few helpful tips and some information about hydration from CrossFit experts:

  • “Performance is directly affected by an athlete’s hydration level. Prior to exercise, it is essential to enter into competition hydrated. During one hour of exercise, the body can lose more than a quart of water. Water must be consumed before, and be replaced during and after exercise.” - CrossFit Fuse
  • “With moderate dehydration - or the loss of between 5 and 10 percent of the body’s fluid - heart and respiration rates rise to compensate for decreased plasma volume and blood pressure, body temperature increases, and there may be headaches, nausea and tingling in the limbs.” - The Box
  • “Your performance will tell the tale. If you’re hitting the wall sooner than expected or recovery between workouts is slower, you may be missing the mark in the hydration department.” - The Box
  • “As little as a 2 percent loss [of fluids] will affect performance. As soon as an athlete becomes even slightly dehydrated, performance will decline. This can mean a loss of seconds, minutes or hours, depending on the event. In CrossFit, even losing seconds can mean the difference between third and 30th.” - Doug Katona, managing partner and head coach for CrossFit Endurance
  • “Space out water intake throughout the day. Don’t guzzle it down all at one time or try to catch up like a dog after a run; it’s got to be dosed in gradually. It’s not just water but what’s in the water, namely key elements like sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride and calcium.” - Doug Katona, managing partner and head coach for CrossFit Endurance
  • “Water should be your main source of hydration. It can be sparkling or even flavored. But be careful that nothing unhealthy has been added, such as artificial ingredients and flavors. Soda, juice and other ‘soft’ drinks should be avoided since your body won’t allow those liquids to help with hydration until after it processes the soda or excess sugar.” - Boxrox
  • “If you’re constantly drinking water and your urine is very light yellow or nearly clear, your tissues may still not be well hydrated. Including electrolytes in your water means you’ll retain enough water to stay hydrated and preserve muscle function instead of just running to the bathroom every 45 minutes to pee.” - Steph Gaudreau

Trago Scientists

Hydration is a big deal. That’s why Trago invests in the science behind hydration. Many smart water bottles on the market will remind you to drink throughout the day, but few smart sports bottles include a smart water bottle cap that not only measures your water intake down to a fraction of an ounce, but integrates with your sports apps, like Fitbit, to customize hydration suggestions based on your own body and your conditions.

We work with scientists who help us develop products that help every athlete optimize their performance. Mark Kovacs, CEO of the Kovacs Institute, reiterates what we’ve been saying all along:

“Hydration is an ongoing process; however, timing is important as a reduction of hydration levels has consistently been shown to have a negative impact on performance. Therefore, it is important to make sure you go into your activity well hydrated. Many athletes go into athletic situations already mildly or even moderately dehydrated. This can have significant negative effects on performance. 2% dehydration has a negative outcome on most physical performance metrics.”

No matter your sport, hydration plays a key role in how productive your workouts and training will be. CrossFit is an intense sport that puts a heavy demand on your body. Learn your body and invest in the technology that personalizes your hydration. Don’t listen to myths and “general rules.” Those are admittedly too general and have nothing to do with how your body metabolizes water, electrolytes, carbohydrates, fructose, glucose and all of the other nutrients a CrossFit workout might require.

Avoid the urge to carry around gallon-size water bottles at the gym. Drinking this much water can make you feel terrible and drastically limit your performance ability. Instead, be smart about your hydration. Drink throughout the day, understand what your body needs and hydrate intelligently, not aimlessly. You’re a CrossFit machine so treat your body like a well-oiled one.


Tags: CrossFit, dehydration, hydrate smarter, hydration, peak performance, physical activit, smart water bottle, trago, water, wearable technology