As summer temperatures keep getting muggy, understanding the importance of staying well hydrated has never been more important. Hence, M&F delves deeper into the components of good hydration and consults experts to find out more about the effectiveness of some of the ingredients that are designed to keep you cool and well lubricated. When it comes to the world of hydration drinks, water is only part of the equation.
The key to maintaining a healthy fluid balance is consuming electrolytes. These are electrically charged minerals like sodium, chloride, and potassium and calcium.
“Gnarly Hydrate is formulated to optimally replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweating,” said Shannon O’Grady Ph. D., chief operating officer at Gnarly Nutrition and a PhD in biology at the University of Utah.
“Start your day with an electrolyte drink,” said James Mayo, SOS Hydration co-founder and retired military doctor who has been researching hydration science for many years. “Solutions like those offered by SOS Hydration contain a small amount of sugar (3 g) to speed up the process of hydration in the cells. The best thing you can do is pre-hydrate so you are ahead of your drinking game and then you can enjoy your caffeine when you need it, weather the heat, and top up when you need it. ”Electrolytes are important in regulating the levels of fluids in blood plasma, and they help too in other functions such as muscle contraction and tissue building.
For caffeine or not for caffeine?
Caffeine’s status as a diuretic (which causes urination) can be somewhat overstated. “There is a common myth that caffeine is a powerful diuretic,” says Dr. O’Grady. “But there is no evidence that caffeine increases the risk of dehydration. Research has shown no difference in hydration status between athletes who drink caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages during exercise, and that an intake of up to 400 mg / day does not cause dehydration, even in those who exercise. “
But nothing prevents you from accompanying your morning cuppa joe with an electrolyte-rich drink, Mayo adds.
Shall we add sugar?
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If you do a quick browse the supermarket shelves, you’ll discover an array of energy drinks and hydration options, many of which are rich in sugar. But what role does sugar play in hydration? “Sugar is a fuel and for competitive sports this fuel is beneficial after an hour of intensive training,” says Mayo. “The problem is that too much sugar and / or inactivity can lead to negative health conditions such as prediabetes, obesity, tooth decay and also dehydration.
“Sugar dehydrates us because salt always follows sugar and water always follows salt. Hydration is another focus for the body. We only need a small amount of sugar to activate the sodium-glucose co-transport system that accelerates water and electrolytes into the cells. “
Simple carbohydrates are quickly absorbed and provide much needed energy well, but beware of drinks that are too surgical as they negatively affect hydration and cause bowel discomfort. So what should you look out for with a sports drink? “Products that contain several simple sources of carbohydrates (sucrose, fructose and / or dextrose) and contain less than 8% carbohydrates or 8 g sugar / L liquid,” suggests O’Grady.
But what about BCAAs?
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Branched-chain amino acids have gained importance as an ingredient in many performance drinks in recent years. “BCAAs have a purpose for physical well-being, although they have no direct purpose to keep our bodies hydrated,” Mayo says.
“Taking BCAA before exercise can have a positive effect on recovery if the protein intake is not optimal,” says O’Grady. “I recommend BCAA intake before training in the following cases:
Fasting training Vegetarian / vegan athletes Aging athletes Athletes who, due to their schedule or eating habits, have difficulty getting enough high quality protein every three to four hours. Athletes participating in competitions where the breakdown of muscle protein is high over long periods of time due to low protein intake and high energy output.
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We are not going to tell you to avoid alcohol. All in moderation, right? However, it is important to understand the effects of alcohol on hydration. “For every drink you consume that contains 10 mg of pure alcohol, you lose about 100 ml of fluid,” Mayo says. “Multiply that by a good night and you’ve lost enough fluids to cause headaches and other signs of dehydration the next morning.”
Hydration is more than just water
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So there you have it. While additional ingredients like BCAAs and caffeine alone won’t add to your fluid balance, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are worthless supplements. In fact, a cup of coffee might help with our mental focus so that you don’t have to give up your normal routine, but you could strengthen your drinking game with an electrolyte drink on the side. If you are exercising hard, consuming some BCAAs to aid muscle recovery can prove to be a good addition to your overall drinking schedule.
When it comes to hydration, water is not enough. In large quantities, water could even dilute important minerals that are needed for everyday life. Now that you know what’s in your hydration drink and have the expertise to stay well lubricated, use those powers to improve every work shift, workout, and day. Stay hydrated and stay cool out there!