Proper hydration is essential to maintain optimal health. With temperatures soaring, many of us find summer workouts becoming more physically and mentally taxing, and it requires paying special attention to hydrate ourselves. If you notice during the workout — a decrease in performance, a shift in mood or a headache, you may need to take a break and hydrate yourself.
For sedentary individuals, thirst is what maintains fluid balance but for people with active lifestyle, thirst is less precise. The biggest challenge during workout is that by the time one is aware of thirst, s/he is already dehydrated which, in turn, decreases the capacity to exercise considerably.
What should be the right rehydration fuel for your exercise?
As every individual’s hydration needs are different, it is important to match the beverages with the workout goal. Average sweat loss is around 500 ml to 1,500 ml during an hour of vigorous exercise and fluid intake can fall within this range depending on the conditions, type and duration of the exercise.
For many exercisers, water can be an effective fluid replacement beverage. While water does help in hydrating the body, it can only replace a fraction of fluid and salt losses as it turns off the thirst too soon.
On the other hand, from a sports perspective, for a high performance in short burst of intense movement or endurance sessions, sports drinks are most beneficial in giving you the functional advantages of boosting energy, fuelling the workout and going beyond plain hydration. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates, electrolytes and minerals, which, when consumed, enhance performance.
Let’s find out how sports drinks can enable you to push your game and help you go faster and longer.
Flavour is one of the most important aspects of sports drinks that can stimulate drinking during or after exercise. Studies have shown that exercisers replace their fluid losses best when drinking a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution during exercise. To help stimulate drinking behaviour, the flavour has to be appealing. Try multiple flavours, pick your favourite and enjoy.
Carbohydrate concentration & type
A correctly formulated sports drink plays a great role in helping one maintain their endurance during exercise and not feel exhausted after exercise. Research shows that body can only oxidise on an average 60 – 90 gms of ingested carbohydrates per hour, so it makes little sense to have more. In a beverage having more carbohydrates, gastric emptying and fluid absorption is slowed down leading to stomach aches, nausea and impaired performance. Look for sports drinks containing 14-17 gms of carbohydrates per 236 ml serving.
While sweating, the electrolyte lost in greatest quantities is sodium. The sodium content of sports drinks encourages fluid retention, promotes absorption and drives osmotic thirst mechanism. In addition, the sodium in a sports drink helps the body retain more of the fluid that is consumed, allowing for better hydration. If you are losing large amounts of sweat, you should consider a sports drink that contains greater amounts of sodium (i.e., more than 100 mg/8-oz serving) and other electrolytes, such as calcium and magnesium.
Hydration is the key to boosting endurance and all-round performance in any exercise. So, next time before you go for that high-intensity workout or head out to play your favourite sport, do remember to carry a bottle of sports drink to get the most of your workout session.