Iced T… P? How the color of your urine affects workouts
Did you know, if your urine looks like strong-brewed iced tea, you’re dehydrated and dehydration can dramatically affect the effectiveness of your workout? Here’s some data from a post-workout study…
In two different, related studies, researchers tested healthy, physically active males following an overnight fast of ten hours. The men exercised until dehydrated then ingested a specific volume of water in 30 minutes.
Collected urine samples were determined to be “sensitive to small levels of dehydration,” deeming them “highly significant,” with each study concluding that measuring urine contents, quantity and color are a “practical verification of an individual’s hydration status.”
In fact, this technique, considered “universally accepted” by the International Journal of Sport Nutrition, effectively “determines whether humans are well-hydrated.”
But there’s more to this exercise than seeing subtle shades of yellow. “The appearance and smell of your urine—as well as the frequency with which you have to go—can provide many clues to what else is going on in your body,” says Dr. Michael Farber, director of the Executive Health Program at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J.
Watching Your Ps
The yellow color occurs once the elements in the excreted liquid is exposed to the environment. And a deep, dark yellow could be a good sign, “The B vitamins and carotene in particular give the urine a deeper, more golden color,” says Dr. Deborah J. Lightner, associate professor of urology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
But more often, that deep, dark yellow color is a subtle indicator that you may not be capable of conducting a decent workout.
In a nut shell, if your urine looks like strong-brewed iced tea, you’re dehydrated and dehydration can dramatically affect the effectiveness of your workout. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) experts contend that “dehydration can limit the body’s ability to regulate body temperature by sweating and/or skin blood flow and may contribute to heat exhaustion, heat injury, and exertional heat stroke.” Just recently, a 23-year old man collapsed and died while running the Baltimore Marathon. His body temperature, prior to his death, was 108 degrees.
“The trouble is, sometimes while exercising intensely – especially in a race situation – we can actually forget about the need for fluid and calories until faced with the result of their absence. At this point, of course, it’s too late to hydrate and fuel without a decline in performance,” wrote Brendan Brazier, an Ironman® triathlon athlete.
Electrolyte beverages (chicken noodle soup, certain enhanced waters like AquaHydrate) and even V8, when ingested before exercise promotes hydration during exercise. According to a white paper by the American College of Sports Medicine on “Exercise and Fluid Replacement,” these beverages “augment fluid balance by increasing [as often as desired] water intake and reducing urine volume during exercise.”
Another study, specifically focusing on electrolytes in beverages showed that “sodium concentration [in these beverages] is more important than other beverage macronutrients for promoting improve hydration status.”
Hydration vs. Sweat
“Sweating provides the primary avenue of water loss during exercise-heat stress,” according to ACSM research. Of course, the type and duration of activity affects the fluid loss (see chart at right).
According to Dr. Cheryle Hart, medical advisor to AquaHydrate, “pre-hydration is critical to performance and rapid recovery after competition. Relying on plain water after an intense event leads to delayed recovery and may actually lead to further dehydration.
Plain water dilutes blood plasma sodium which decreases the sensation of thirst, while at the same time stimulating more urine production.”