From day to day, elite athletes' workouts change to emphasize a variety of different strengths and skills and prevent over-training of specific muscles or joints. Over time, intense athletic training improves performance by breaking down the body's muscles, depleting them of their energy stores, and then recovering and repairing them to allow optimal strength and performance. If athletes don't recover properly from their strenuous training regimen, they can't perform at the elite level, and that's where proper nutrition and hydration come into play.
How Workouts Affect Your Body
"Muscle contraction creates friction and heat," explains Pamela Nisevich Bede, a registered dietitian on Abbott's scientific and medical affairs team and 24-time marathoner. As your internal temperature increases during exercise, a sympathetic nervous system response triggers your sweat glands to produce perspiration. This moisture on your skin's surface helps cool it, which regulates your internal body temperature in the process.
“Losing sodium and chloride can reduce power, strength, agility, skill, and concentration, all of which are essential for elite athletes.”
Pam Bede, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Medical Manager, Scientific & Medical Affairs
As sweat is produced to cool your body, your internal water levels are slowly depleted. It's important to replace water as it's lost to stave off dehydration and maintain peak athletic performance.
Challenging exercise can drain your body of electrolytes: special minerals that help the brain, heart, gut, and muscles send and receive electrical signals. Electrolytes are critical for next-level athletic performance as well as basic biological functioning.
"Sodium and chloride are the electrolytes that we lose the most," says Nisevich Bede. Losing sodium and chloride can reduce power, strength, agility, skill, and concentration, all of which are essential for elite athletes. Additional electrolytes are lost when you sweat: calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, all of which are important for muscle health and muscle repair post-workout. Even the best of the best can lose their edge near the end of training sessions, races, and games if they're low on electrolytes.
But not everyone sweats the same way, and athletes who lose too many electrolytes can experience performance-hindering cramps. "Athletes who sweat profusely, especially if they lose a lot of salt through sweat, are at a greater risk for cramping," Nisevich Bede explains. Have you ever noticed white grit on your skin after an incredibly hard work out? That's essentially salt.
Advanced Hydration and Nutrition for Elite Performance and Recovery
"What if your job was to perform athletic feats day after day? If your body had to be consistently primed to perform?" Nisevich Bede puts forth. "You would soon realize that without the right fuel on board, you couldn't crank through the task at hand."
Elite athletes don't have the option of taking a day off when they aren't feeling their best. To continue improving their performance, they must be prepared to work harder day after day. That's where a rehydration solution such as Pedialyte® Sport comes in.
"For decades, athletes have been using Pedialyte products to help them rehydrate during and after intense workouts," says Jennifer Williams, MPH, a nutrition scientist at Abbott. New Pedialyte® Sport is an advanced hydration option formulated especially for athletes - with five key electrolytes for fast rehydration and muscle support. This new hydration product for athletes also has three times the electrolytes and 1/4 the sugar of the leading sports drinks*. "Pedialyte can help cover both the fluid and electrolyte losses that elite athletes will experience due to training or competitive games and races.” adds Williams.
Pedialyte® Sport’s unique formula with five electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate, is specifically designed for elite athletes.
Combine Hydration and Nutrition for Recovery Like a Pro
Even if you're not a professional athlete, following a concrete hydration and recovery game plan can help you take your performance to the next level. "Focus on hydration for recovery, and your body will better adapt to your workouts," Nisevich Bede notes. "You'll come back ready to tackle the next task."
Not sure where to start? Consider these nutrition and hydration best practices:
It seems like elite athletes live in a world that's separate from the rest of us — one without gravity and that moves in fast forward — but the routines they use to power through each workout can also work for you. If you're thinking of starting a new fitness routine or trying to elevate your nutrition, talk to your doctor about the safest ways to get started.
* Pedialyte Sport products have 1380mg sodium and no more than 14g sugar per liter; leading sports drinks have ≈460mg sodium and ≈58g sugar per liter.
Keto-Friendly Recipes for the Holidays: Dishes and Strategies to Try This Thanksgiving
With Thanksgiving around the corner, many people are starting to plan their menus and recipes for the holidays. But for anyone following the ketogenic diet, navigating the carb-rich spread of mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie can be tricky. Fortunately, you don't have to let one day derail your diet plans. Instead, you can use these tips and tricks to plan a Thanksgiving menu that has keto-friendly options. Here's what to know. What Is the Ketogenic Diet? A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb style of eating. Those on a keto diet typically consume around 75 percent of their calories from fat, 20 percent of their calories from protein and 5 percent of their calories from carbohydrates. When the body is deprived of carbs, it starts to break down fat molecules, and rely on ketones to help fuel bodily functions. This is referred to as a state of "ketosis," hence the name "keto." The research on this style of eating is relatively limited but growing and a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that obese men following a short-term keto diet lost weight and felt less hungry compared to other dietary interventions.