Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, proper hydration is key during exercise. Water is an essential element, and our bodies depend on it significantly for maximum health and fitness. Good hydration means getting the right amount of liquid (water, sports drinks, juice) before, during, and after exercise.
The engagement in prolonged physical activities and sports can very often lead to an increase in body’s temperature, resulting in an also increased sweat rate. By sweating more and for a longer period of time, athletes and physical activities practitioners are faced with a higher loss of bodily fluids and essential electrolytes causing mild-moderate dehydration.
Sports such as Marathon racing, cycling, MMA, boxing, swimming, hot yoga, college/professional sports are some of the examples of activities that can result in dehydration if not looked at closely. It’s simple: if you’re not hydrated, your body can’t perform at its highest level. You may feel tired, have muscle cramps, dizziness, or other serious symptoms.
Larry Kenney, PhD, a professor of physiology and kinesiology at Penn State, says that "Hydration is important because the body is comprised mostly of water, and the proper balance between water and electrolytes in our bodies really determines how most of our systems function, including nerves and muscles." The human body is composed of roughly 60% water and every major system is influenced by fluid balance. We depend on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ in our body needs water to work properly. Also, when we notice temperature rise, getting enough to drink is crucially important whether you’re playing sports, traveling or just sitting in the sun. Keeping the body hydrated at all times helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles work efficiently.
For most people, water is all that is needed to stay hydrated. However, if you will be exercising at a high intensity for longer than an hour, a sports drink may be the answer. The calories, potassium, and other nutrients in sports drinks can provide energy and electrolytes to help you perform for a longer period of time.
But, What Do Electrolytes Exactly Do?
Our bodies store electrolytes in one of three places: inside the cells, outside the cells or in the blood. Having these minerals in various storage helps the body evenly distribute water, to control bloating and fluid retention. When electrolytes are dissolved in the blood, they are able to conduct electricity. These charges create electrical impulses to control many functions in the body, such as "firing" electricity to contract your muscles, control your heart's rhythm and regulate the function of nerve cells.
Consuming electrolytes is kind of like paying your electricity bill. Consuming a diet rich in electrolytes ensures that you'll supply a steady current of electricity to keep your heartbeat in rhythm and your muscles contracting comfortably without any cramping. Electrolytes are almost as important as plain water when it comes to increasing and maintaining hydration levels, especially during summertime activities. Much like not paying your electricity bill will lead to a dim house without lights, skimping on electrolytes in the diet will disrupt the electrical impulses of your cells, which could potentially lead to muscle cramping or even a heart arrhythmia.
Most people get enough electrolytes from the daily foods and beverages they take in. In some instances, electrolyte beverages such as sports drinks may be a good way for you to quickly replace fluids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes that you lost during extreme activity. Here are some reasons and benefits for you to stay properly hydrated during your Fitness Journey:
Optimize your athletic potential
Lead to the proper functioning of your nerves and muscles
Assist in the maintenance of a cooler body temperature
Allow you to think clearly and quickly
Result in an adequate energy level
Reduce the likelihood of cramps
Allow your heart to work more efficiently
Result in an accurately perceived intensity level
Proper hydration is a key component in making sure you have a successful training session in terms of being physically prepared for each workout and properly recovered at all times. A study published in 2015 Asker Jeukendrup & Michael Gleeson at Humankinetics, suggests that “A loss of sweat equal to 2% of body weight causes a noticeable decrease of physical and mental performance. Losses of 5% or more of body weight during physical activities may decrease the capacity for work by roughly 30%”. Therefore we can conclude that the lack of proper hydration will cause major damage to your athletic performance as shown. Making sure you are always replenishing fluid and electrolytes if you are engaged in a physical activity is a must if you are looking to perform at optimum levels.”
BUT BE CAREFUL: Choose a sports drink wisely. They are often high in calories from added sugar and may contain high levels of sodium. Also, check the serving size. One bottle may contain several servings. If you drink the entire bottle, you may need to double or triple the amounts given on the nutrition facts label. Some sports drinks contain caffeine. If you consume a sports drink that contains caffeine, be careful not to add too much caffeine to your diet. Caffeine may cause a diuretic effect on your body!
Depending on my daily workout, I do switch or add a sports drink into the mix of my daily hydration. Walking around with a water bottle or sports drink bottle has become part of who I am. Staying hydrated not only helps me to stay on top of my physical performance, but also I make sure I am always at my best mentally. Hydra-Guard Sports Drink is a great way of replenishing your essential electrolytes after a workout but keeping the calorie count low and consuming only 5g of natural sugars per bottle.
Hopefully I was able to show you enough to persuade you on making sure you stay hydrated and drink more water/sports drinks to make sure your liquid and electrolyte are always at optimum levels. Either for physical activities performance or a healthy performance of everyday functions, make sure you are looking for products and adapting to a lifestyle where your body is always hydrated.
This article will show you a little more about how to make sure your diet can help you to stay hydrated too. If you are making switches on your diet or schedule/lifestyle, look for products that will help you achieve your hydration goals too. Like I mentioned in this article, luckily there are already healthier options of foods and drinks on the market that can help people get their essential vitamins and minerals and keep your hydration levels at its peak without the extra calories.
Professional Athletes know best. Minnesota Vikings’ Running Back Alexander Mattison emphasizes the importance of sports drinks in his preparation to play in the NFL level. “I believe that staying Properly Hydrated with products such as Hydra-Guard is very important because as an athlete, it becomes part of a healthy lifestyle choice and it helps me to prevent any injuries,” says Alex.