Water does more than quench our thirst. Proper hydration is essential to various bodily functions, including:

  • Regulating body temperature
  • Transporting nutrients
  • Managing waste products
  • Lubricating joints and tissue
  • Facilitating digestion
Most of us know how important it is to replace the water and electrolytes we lose during exercise. The human body is greater than 50 per cent water and loss of water can result in a reduction in function. In exercise, dehydration is most easily seen as a reduction in performance.



Hydration increases performance
In its resting state, the human body is greater than 50 per cent water so, left unchecked, dehydration leads to a rapid deterioration in performance and can cause serious health issues.

The environmental conditions that athletes, professional and amateur, train and compete in can provide an additional stress that needs to be managed in order for optimal training adaptation and performance to occur.

Exercising in the heat can result in a combination of the following:

  • Increased perceived effort
  • Dehydration
  • Elevated heart rate
  • High body temperature
  • Premature fatigue
  • Impaired performance
During exercise, athletes can lose up to 3 litres of fluid an hour; and swimmers up to 1.5 litres an hour.

Fully adjusting to a new (hotter) environment (acclimatisation) can take 10-14 days. Over this time the body responds to the increased thermal stress during exercise by;

  • Sweating more profusely
  • Sweating at a lower body temperature
  • Having a better retention of electrolytes by the body


Proper hydration impacts performance
Water does more than quench our thirst. Proper hydration is essential to various bodily functions that have the ability to majorly impact performance. 


The Science of Hydration

It is not only endurance exercise where being hydrated is important. A study by Juedlson et al (2008) showed that undertaking a resistance training session dehydrated resulted in lower testosterone and higher cortisol levels when compared to completing the same training session hydrated. The potential of these hormone levels would be to result in a reduced training benefit of the resistance session when dehydrated.

The principal scientist at the NSW Institute of Sport, Dr Kenneth Graham, explains that athletes can only take in about 1 litre of fluid an hour during exercise, so drinking before and after exercise plays a critical role in ensuring peak performance and maintaining good health.

Plane travel can also place a stress on the body due to the low humidity environment of the plane increasing basal fluid lose. This travel-induced loss of fluid can be managed by drinking before, during and after the flight; even a flight of 4-5 hours can cause significant fluid loss if not managed.



Dr Kenneth Graham explains how Powerade plays a critical role in good health
The principal scientist at the NSW Institute of Sport, Dr Kenneth Graham, explains that athletes can only take in about 1 litre of fluid an hour during exercise, so drinking Powerade before and after exercise plays a critical role in ensuring peak performance and maintaining good health.


How a League Hero Hydrates

For a professional athlete such as South Sydney Rabbitohs Captain and brand ambassador for POWERADE ION4, Greg Inglis, hydration is critical for performance. Once blood sugar levels drop, it can impact peripheral vision, decision making and the ability to sprint repeatedly; which is needed at the elite level, Dr Graham said.

Inglis agrees that proper hydration is essential even from the early weeks of preparation for the Rugby League season, to ensure optimal performance later on.

One way to optimise pre-event hydration is to drink 10ml.kg of a sports drink in the 120-90 minutes before the competition. This will allow the gut to absorb the fluid and distribute it around the body prior to the exercise starting.


Effective hydration helps Greg Inglis perform
Effective hydration paired with balanced electrolytes and carbohydrates plays a major role in supporting the high level of performance required by Greg Inglis during the 80 minute game.

The Science of Winning

Dr Graham said that POWERADE ION4, which contains 95 per cent more electrolytes to replace the electrolytes lost during sweat, compared to previous “Powerade Isotonic” 600ml formulation, was a particularly effective pre-exercise hydration tool for athletes.

Containing potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium, POWERADE ION4 has been formulated to meet the needs of both elite and amateur athletes.

Dr Graham said analysis revealed that up to 260 chemicals can be lost from the body via sweat during exercise, and while some of these are waste products, losing other chemicals and trace elements could impair athletic performance if not properly managed.

For example, a small amount of calcium, which drives muscle contraction, is lost during exercise. “Even though free calcium is present in a low concentration it is very important for function,” Dr Graham said. And of course optimal function is essential to sustained and effective athletic performance.


Dr Kenneth Graham and Greg Inglis
Dr Kenneth Graham has been involved in the development and performance testing of Powerade products since 2005.

Dr Kenneth Graham is the Principal Scientist at NSW Institute of Sport and holds an Adjunct Senior Lectureship at the University of Sydney. Kenneth has over 20 years working in high performance sport and has been involved in the preparation of multiple Olympic, World and Commonwealth champions. Kenneth’s primary research area, in which he completed his PhD, is on the monitoring of fatigue, recovery and performance in athletes. He is currently supervising a number of PhD students and research studies for the Australasian College of Sports Physicians. Kenneth has presented at a number of scientific conferences including for the American College of Sports Medicine and Australian Association of Exercise and Sport Science. Kenneth has been a keynote speaker at conferences in Asia and Australia. Kenneth has been involved in the development and performance testing of Powerade products since 2005.