You just finished up your workout and you’re standing in a puddle of sweat. You know that you need to hydrate quickly in order to prevent that fatigue that sets in with dehydration. But what is the best way? Let’s dive into some Advanced Hydration Strategies next!
Hydration is extremely important and knowing how to hydrate becomes even more critical when you are talking about athletes. Both the weekend warrior and the elite level athlete need to have a plan to both prevent dehydration and correct it as quickly as possible when it occurs.
Last week we went through Hydration 101, and stated that the current recommendations for men are about 3L of water each day, and for women it is about 2L. But for those of us who are athletes and exercising multiple times a week losing large amounts of water and electrolytes through sweat what do we do?
Electrolytes are extremely important when it comes to your body working optimally. Most people get plenty of electrolytes like sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. But for those people who are physically active and especially those who are exercising in the heat they can easily become deficient through profuse sweating. According to the Sports Nutrition handbook they state that “When people live and are physically active in warm environments, voluntary fluid intake is often insufficient to meet fluid needs…” (Karpinski & Rosenbloom, 2017)
This is where we need to be more advanced with our hydration strategies.
Strategy number 1 is to Flavor your water.
People are much more likely to drink water that is flavored and sweetened. Shocking right! Now this doesn’t mean that you need to be drinking Gatorade every time you work up even a mild sweat. You can easily add electrolyte tablets like Nuun to your water bottles. Not only will this make them taste good which will increase the likelihood you will actually drink it, but it will also help you to replace those electrolytes you lost in your sweat.
Speaking of electrolytes, Strategy number 2 is to add in electrolytes.
Plain water is great for during the day, but following excessive sweating from exercise or manual labor water just isn’t enough. The authors of the Sports Nutrition Handbook state that “…ingesting plain water is ineffective at restoring euhydration because water absorption causes plasma osmolality to decrease, suppressing thirst and increasing urine output.” (Karpinski & Rosenbloom, 2017)
Companies like Nuun have done a great job and making the replacement of lost electrolytes super easy. You simply drop ½-1 tablet in your water bottle and you can quickly replace your sodium, potassium, and other minerals lost in sweat. They have the added bonus of also adding a little sweetness from the stevia which makes it more enjoyable. There are other brands of electrolyte replacements out there, and I am sure some of them are good as well, I just have not used any other than the Nuun products. One word of caution is that some electrolyte replacements come with caffeine in them so make sure you get one without caffeine especially if you exercise in the afternoon so as not to ruin your sleep quality.
Option number 2 for electrolyte replacement is to eat your electrolytes. Eating foods like pickles, crackers, pretzels, etc, or salting your food can help you to quickly replace lost minerals. And if you are drinking plain water with it you can quickly rehydrate!
Strategy number 3 is to Add in some Carbs.
Carbohydrates have multiple effects that improve hydration. First, they give sweetness to the drink again improving your chances of drinking more. Second, they are fuel for active muscles. And third, they stimulate fluid absorption in your intestines. (Karpinski & Rosenbloom, 2017)
A little goes a long way though. You don’t need to be drinking a meal replacement shake in order to improve your hydration. A few grams of carbohydrate in your drink will be sufficient to help you absorb the water you are drinking.
Strategy number 4 has less to do with the quantity of water and more to do with quality, and it is to Filter your Water.
Drinking clean water has become difficult in our modern world. No, we don’t generally see people getting sick from bacteria in the water, but there have been multiple instances of contamination from other chemicals like heavy metals, and pesticides. For a long time, I was spending money buying spring water and using that to fill up my water bottles. But recently I upgraded to the Berkey Water Filter and it is going great. These carbon filters will remove harmful contaminants from your water including viruses, bacteria, pesticides, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and more. They are expensive upfront but in the long run, they end up saving you money because the carbon filters are good for about 3000 gallons of water. This equates to about 2 cents per gallon vs spending more like 1-2 dollars per gallon buying bottled water. Plus less plastic waste 🙂
Many people use filters like Brita but they do very little when it comes to removing the things that you actually should worry about like heavy metals. They do change the taste of the water a little bit, but that’s about it.
So I hope that this has been helpful and you now know how to stay super hydrated and how to drink clean pure water.
In summary, you should:
If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below. Again this is Floyd Meyer reminding you to Drink Better so you can Do More!
Karpinski, C., & Rosenbloom, C. (2017). Sports nutrition: a handbook for professionals. Chicago: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010, August). Water, hydration, and health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20646222.