I’m always concerned about getting dehydrated when I ski, especially in high elevations and low temperatures. I appreciate water is the most essential ingredient to life after oxygen, but stopping for frequent bathroom breaks is not very practical when you are skiing (even less so for women). I recently read a book named The Water Secret: The Cellular Breakthrough to Look and Feel 10 Years Younger by Howard Murad, MD. My big takeaway from the book is that not all water is created equal. The book states the water contained in raw fruits and vegetables is structured, meaning it’s surrounded by molecules that help it get into cells easily and quickly. This is important because it’s not how much you drink, but how much your cells can utilize it. Aging cells lose the ability to retain water. The author’s advice is to “eat your water” for both the hydration and nutrients. I’m often skeptical about the latest self-help trends, but a 2003 Nobel Prize paper on how water molecules pass through cells made me think this might be good advice. Over the summer I made an effort to follow this advice and ate a lot of water laden fruits and vegetables, like cucumbers and melon. I did notice a difference. When I played tennis, I seemed to need fewer drink breaks than my partners. After “hot” yoga or a long bike ride my water bottle was sometimes still half full, which was not typical. I hope to see similar benefits this winter.
Below is the best information I’ve ever read on why and how to stay hydrated when you ski. This information is courtesy of Bridger Bowl Ski Area (Bozeman, MT)
Most skiers are inadequately hydrating while “just” riding the lifts. Did you know that …
- On cold days you lose most of your fluids through respiration?
- Altitude is a thirst suppressant as well as an appetite suppressant?
- Elevations above 6,000 feet you exhale and perspire twice as much moisture as you do at sea level?
- You can lose between a half to one quart of fluid per hour of skiing on lift-served terrain?
- After just 2.5 hours of skiing/riding without taking in fluids, you will likely be irrecoverably dehydrated for the remainder of the day? No, not even with 32 ounces of fluids consumed at lunch.
- After 2 hours of not replenishing lost fluids while skiing, your energy output will begin to significantly decrease, even if you started your day adequately hydrated?
- Beverages containing alcohol and caffeine actually rob the body of water?
- Cold weather causes diuresis – increased need to urinate?
- Sport drinks help you absorb and retain more water than drinking plain water alone … and you will need to urinate less?
If you’re dehydrated …
- You can not drink a lot of water and become re-hydrated in a short amount of time!
- Your metabolism will slow down up to 3%
- You will get colder easier and you’ll be more susceptible to frost bite
- Water can act like a diuretic if you wait to re-hyrdrate during lunch on a ski day
- You will experience increased fatigue … and you are more susceptible to injury
- You will have significantly more muscle stress compared to your skiing partner who has been hydrating with a sport drink
Recommendations for proper hydration:
- Avoid hydrating with just diuretics in the morning. Drink at least 20 oz. of fluids before coffee and limit your coffee or tea on ski day mornings.
- Sport drinks provide the best source of hydration while on the slopes. A sport drink will replace electrolytes, sodium (salt) and some have carbohydrates and proteins for more energy. Sport drinks help you absorb more water and you will need to urinate less than when drinking water.
- Try to consume at least 24 ounces of water or sport drink (a few sips at a time) for every 3 hours of skiing/riding.
- Refrain from consuming caffeine and alcohol during your ski day … wait for the end of the day and after you have properly hydrated with non-diuretics.
- Don’t ski without a water bottle
- Re-hydrate a few ounces during each lift ride
- Intake 24 fl. ounces every 3 hours of skiing
- Never wait until you feel thirsty
- Know and avoid diuretics
Visit MedExpress for 7 ways to stay hydrated (that don’t involve drinking water).