The Importance of Hydration for MMA Athletes

Hydration and the MMA athlete

We all understand that training hard, especially in MMA training, results in heavy sweating and most of the time leaving the gym absolutely drenched. This is not simply a sign of training hard, but is a sign that our body is going to need the water it has lost. Water is essential to maintaining our blood volume, regulating body temperature, and muscle contractions.

The Importance of Hydration for MMA Athletes - Why Dehydration is Dangerous

Why Dehydration is dangerous?

When an athlete becomes dehydrated, there is a reduction in physical and mental performance. The athlete’s resting heart rate will increase and in addition to body temperature, which results in increases in the perception of fatigue.

Dehydration also affects cognitive function and negatively impacts concentration and decision making. Dehydration can also increase the risk of nausea, diarrhoea and other gastro-intestinal stress during and after exercise. Dehydration is not uncommon to MMA athletes, especially post weigh-in, and rehydration during this time is vitally important for overall health and performance. Fail to rehydrate properly and you place yourself at greater risk of injury and serious health consequences.

Video Credits: Medical Centric

How to access hydration status

  1. No need for a scientist, the simplest way to determine hydration status is by the colour of your urine. Generally;

    - If your urine is dark in colour and smells bad then fluid intake needs to be increased.

    - If urine is clear and colourless, then continue to hydrate as usual.

    (Ensure you determine hydration status through this method pre-exercise to ensure you are not putting yourself at risk training in a dehydrated state).
  2. Fluid Intake - General water intake recommendations are between 2.6 to 3.7 litres per day.
  3. Fluid intake & exercise- as a general rule, monitor body weight changes from pre to post exercise, then intake fluid that represents 125-150% of losses. E.g. if you lose 1kg of body weight during exercise, consume 1.25-1.5litres of water/fluid post exercise to ensure adequate hydration.
  4. Electrolyte Intake – vital for optimising the rehydration process.

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are one of the most important components in maintaining fluid balance, proper muscle contraction and neural activity, which are all essential for performance and overall function. Electrolytes are primarily found in the form of sodium (Na+), chloride (Cl-), potassium (K+), magnesium (Mg2+) and calcium (Ca2+).

Video Credits: Whats Up Dude

Water is drawn to concentrations of electrolytes, so in basic terms it follows wherever theelectrolytes go. When athletes sweat, then they are also losing electrolytes, so when you start to replace lost fluids, athletes need to be replacing the electrolytes as well. Therefore, to optimise performance and recovery, it is essential that hydration protocols include the consumption of adequate amounts of electrolytes.

Post Weigh-In is the most important time for electrolyte consumption and should be formulated on an individual basis by your dietitian. Overall, it is recommended that athletes consume adequate electrolytes daily, with heavy emphasis on post-training as part of their hydration protocol.

(Consult your dietitian to obtain protocols).


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