Around 60-70% of the human body is water, so it is fair to say that water is vital for survival. Its used to keep our body temperature regulated, allows us to breathe, is essential in digestion and excretion, assists movement of the body, to name a few!
Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day is recommended, but during exercise or hot weather conditions, we need to drink more, because you sweat more.
Did you know … Studies have shown that less than one percent dehydration can cause large changes in body temperature, while two percent dehydration decreases performance substantially! So to work or play effectively it is essential to keep fluid levels up.
But is water enough? Or do you need a sports drink to stay hydrated? Sports drinks will keep you hydrated and give you energy if you participate in high intensity exercise for more than an hour. But if you do not train at this level, tap water does fine.
What defines a sports drink? Sports drinks (sometimes called electrolyte or isotonic drinks) are developed to contain the appropriate level of carbohydrates (5-8 g / litre) and electrolytes (like sodium and potassium) to stay well hydrated, which replace what is lost by the body during exercise.
Other beverages that contain large amounts of carbohydrates (such as Lucozade and Red Bull as well as soft drinks like coke etc) prevents water from quickly being absorbed, and therefore may delay hydration and therefore are not appropriate before exercise.
So if you do a workout of high intensity, choose a sports drink (but keep an eye on the amount of sugar or artificial sweeteners in the drink). But if you do not work-out with this intensity and drink them as part of your daily routine, you can end up gaining weight because of the extra carbohydrates consumed.
If you do not like the taste of plain water, add a slice of lemon, orange or a sprig of mint to give the water some flavour without adding calories that would be obtained using cordial.
Hydration Tips for Exercise
1. Make sure you are well hydrated before exercise – start to take fluids two hours before you begin
2. Keep your fluid intake topped-up during your training
3. Always don’t forget to re-hydrate after exercise – it is critical to recovery. Try drinking a glass or two per hour until your urine is pale again