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Hydration is important for student athletes

News Release Distributed 09/08/14

BATON ROUGE, La. – School is back in session, and student athletes are returning to the playing fields. While temperatures are likely to begin dropping this month, it is still very hot outside. Denise Holston-West, a registered dietitian with the LSU AgCenter, said staying properly hydrated is important for student athletes.

“A lot of times when we feel dehydrated or we feel thirsty, dehydration has already set in,” she said.

Students should drink plenty of fluids before, during and after physical activity, Holston-West said. Children tend not to sweat as much as adults so don’t use sweat as a guideline. She recommended about two hours before an activity drinking one to two cups of fluid, more while they are active.

“During physical activity, drink about a half of a cup to a cup every 15 minutes,” she said, adding that after the activity, drink another cup to a cup and a half replace lost fluids.

Staying hydrated helps replace the fluid loss during perspiration and also keeps core body temperature down as well.

Water is the best way to stay hydrated, Holston-West said. In most cases, children and teenagers do not need sports drinks.

“If a student is participating in very intensive physical activity for more than an hour, I would suggest sports drink with four to eight percent carbs to restore energy and electrolytes lost during strenuous activity,” she said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advices against giving caffeinated energy drinks to children and teenagers. Holston-West said to avoid these, even if youngsters are taking part in prolonged vigorous activity. And calorie needs only increase a little when children participate in sports.

“We tend to overestimate how active we really are,” she said.

Athletes spend time on the sidelines not actually in the action, she said. Adding a snack before an activity will give them the fuel they need.

“Most children will receive enough calories just with a snack of carbohydrates, lean protein and a moderate amount of fat and fiber,” she said.

She also recommended that student athletes eat a well-balanced diet. Visit to get ideas for wholesome meals and snacks for youngsters.

Tobie Blanchard

Last Updated: 9/8/2014 12:39:16 PM

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