#WKNDworkout: How to choose the right drink for hydration

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Published: Thu 11 Mar 2021, 5:31 PM

Last updated: Wed 17 Mar 2021, 2:02 PM

Replacing fluids lost during the workout or any sports activity, is the first line of defence for anyone who exercises regularly. To prevent any dehydration, one requires to drink at least 2-3 cups of fluids, for every pound lost during workouts.

By Deepshikha Agarwal

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Sports drinks are the most convenient way to rehydrate after a workout session. However, with so many different options for sports drinks available in the market, it can get really confusing to choose one that can serve as the perfect replenishment, post-workout.

So, what should one look for in their hydration drinks? Besides the taste, there are some other aspects that one should look out for, such as the carbohydrate content, electrolytes and how many calories it has.

Electrolytes are simple chemicals that are imperative for complete rehydration. Sodium and potassium are two of the most important minerals; they are execrated from the pores of our body in the form of sweat, making it essential to replace them for the body to function optimally.

Sodium, which is a component of salt, is involved in maintenance of fluid balance. Having sodium in our fluid replacement drinks is essential, as rehydration with plain water alone can actually dilute the blood rapidly, leading to water loss from the body. Having plain water after working out for more than two hours can also cause hyponatremia. One should make sure to include at least 0.5-0.7g/l sodium, in their drinks, for any activity longer than one hour, in order to reduce the risk of hyponatremia and muscle cramps. Potassium is required for muscle contraction and one may experience extreme fatigue when there is a deficiency of this mineral. Some popular sports/recovery drinks are surprisingly low in potassium, so it is always better to have some high potassium foods ready to eat after exercise. You can consume yoghurt, orange juice, bananas, pineapple juice, coconut water mixed with cranberry juice and raisins, to add potassium to your post-workout routine.

Another important ingredient in the sports drink, which one tends to ignore, is its carbohydrate content. The amount and absorption of glucose in the drink significantly impacts the absorption of electrolytes (sodium and potassium). Remember, it’s the combination of carbohydrates — electrolyte in the drink that enhances our exercise capacity, by increasing our blood sugar levels and preventing fatigue. Glucose concentration in the hydrating drinks should range from 4 to 6 per cent, to boost performance and prevent any gastrointestinal symptoms.

Lastly, one should make sure that the calorie content of the drink must not exceed 50-200 kcal. Sports drinks shouldn’t be confused with energy drinks, which often contain a lot of caffeine and added sugar that can not only be dehydrating, but can also lead to weight gain. You should never mix sports drinks with caffeine-based beverages like tea, coffee or colas, as they act as diuretics and can cause the body to lose excess water. Also, avoid any sports drinks that contain iron or biotin as the sports drink should not be a replacement for dietary supplements.

You should consume sports/rehydration drinks at cold temperatures, because they help reduce the core temperature, decrease the rate at which you sweat and speed up gastric emptying. Keep in mind that the duration and intensity of the workout, temperature of the environment, and body size are also the contributing factors to individual variations in fluid intake and micro-mineral requirements.


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