The following factors suggest how athletes and bodybuilders may best use drinks:
♦ Although larger volumes, up to 600ml, are emptied from the stomach more rapidly than smaller portions, it is generally more uncomfortable to exercise with too much fluid in the stomach. It may cause nausea and reflux, or may interfere with breathing. It is generally better to drink little and often, but how much and how often depends on the individual. Sip water during training, as it feels comfortable.
♦ Colder solutions empty form the stomach more rapidly than warm ones. A cup of tea or coffee during your workout lies on your stomach more, as you may have noticed. Optimum water temperature during exercise is 8 - 13°C, but it is better to have a drink too cold than too warm. Don't worry about over-chilling the stomach, as cramps are more likely to occur as a result of an over-concentrated solution than from a cold drink. There is also psychological relief from drinking lovely cold water during a hard training session, especially on a hot day - this is therefore advantageous!
♦ Exercise duration has little effect on the rate of gastric emptying, but exercise intensity is very important. The harder you are working, the more difficult it is to replace fluids lost as sweat. Remember, though, that bodybuilding is a train-rest pastime, i.e. during a workout, you may do a very ferocious and intense set, but then you rest for a couple of minutes. This helps gastric emptying, and explains why during weight training we do not need as much water than when we are doing cardio session.
Accustom your body to accept fluids whenever you exercise. Thirst is a poor indicator of the need for water, as it is too slow a sensory perception. Ensure your body is fully hydrated pre-exercise, and sip plenty during exercise.
"Accustom your body to accept fluids whenever you exercise."
Somewhere around 250 - 500 ml of fluid about twenty minutes before training is roughly optimal. This is not too much fluid taken too soon before exercise to make you feel bloated, but sufficient in order to keep you well hydrated for an intense workout.
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