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How Much Should Athletes Drink?

If you're going to exercise today, be careful how much fluid you drink. Too much fluid before, during or after exercise can have a potentially fatal outcome.
The warning follows reports of several deaths from a severe lack of salt in the blood due to excessive drinking known as hyponatremic encephalopathy. Since the cause of the condition is now known, Timothy Noakes, from the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, says it is preventable. //

Noakes says there is no evidence athletes must drink the maximum amount of fluids tolerable to optimize performance and prevent medical consequences. He adds there is also a misconception that a feeling of thirst underestimates fluid requirements. Drinking according to the personal dictates of thirst seems to be safe and effective, he says. Such fluid intake typically ranges between 400 milliliters and 800 milliliters per hour in most forms of recreational and competitive exercise.

Noakes concludes, "The recent adoption of these guidelines by USA Track and Field provides the hope that this sad aberration has finally run its tragic course."

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