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Kristen Ziesmer: Most athletes need, at the very least, half of their body weight of ounces per day, in order to stay hydrated. However, for younger athletes that might be smaller, that may not be enough, and so, it’s really best to go by the eight by eight rule of eight ounces eight times per day. You’re spacing out those fluids throughout the day and getting eight ounces at a time, so that your body can absorb it and utilize it.
Climate, as well as weather conditions, altitude, those all play a factor in a young athlete’s hydration needs. If you live at a higher altitude, your body will actually release more water, and so you need more hydration, you have a higher hydration level than somebody that lives at sea level. As well as, if you live in a very hot and humid environment, when it’s humid your body doesn’t really have the opportunity for sweat to get whisked away, which is what actually cools your body down, so your body winds up just pouring out more water, and that would also increase your hydration needs, as well.
Ideally, out of all of your hydration needs for the day, at least 75 percent of your intake should be coming from just plain water, and the rest can be other liquids, such as milk, juice, sports drinks, that type of thing. One thing that I would consider is making sure that they are getting in a low-fat milk, as opposed to a high-fat milk, like two percent or even whole milk. So, really sticking to skim or one percent milk, and that’s really from a heart-health and obesity standpoint, but also making sure that they are getting the correct milk in and that would not prevent any issues with their gut getting upset around exercise time.
Juice intake can contribute also to overall hydration needs, however, it is best to choose 100 percent juice and really not focus on things like sugary juice substitutes. And I would say most athletes really only need two servings of that per day, since that would count also as a fruit serving. It is always better for them to be eating real fruit as opposed to drinking the juice, but certainly juice would contribute to overall hydration needs and juice would be something great for them to drink either right before a training session or right after.
Young athletes should always avoid energy drinks, anything that is caffeinated or might have stimulants, even creatime added to it, basically anything that is a supplement. Plain water is the best, because it’s just going to be water that helps to flush out the system and it wouldn’t have additional solutes in there that might clog up the system, and it’s also really just good for oral health and overall health needs.