Summer, while having many positive sides, can leave one often feeling dehydrated, especially if they are into outdoor activities.
Now, don’t get us wrong, enjoying the nice weather and engaging in sports or other leisure activities is a wonderful thing indeed, as one’s body can always benefit from staying active.
However, one shouldn’t ignore their thirst and should seek to sate it quickly. But, the question is, which drinks are best to drink and when should we drink them?
Read on to get informed about what we should drink before, during, or after our physically active, sweaty periods to avoid dehydration.
What’s So Bad About Dehydration?
While it may not sound so serious, one should avoid dehydration as it can hinder the proper functioning of one’s body. And it’s not like one loses water solely through sweating. Crying, urinating, bowel movements, salivating, and even breathing.
So, if we happen to be an athlete or someone who does sports regularly, we could get easily dehydrated – which can lead to an impairment in performance. But that’s not the only problem it can cause.
Here is a list of symptoms that can be dangerous to our health.
- Strong thirst,
- Dry mouth,
- Dark urine,
- Muscle cramps.
- Rapid breathing,
- Rapid heartbeat,
Make no mistake, severe dehydration is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. One more thing to keep in mind is that high blood sugar levels tend to increase one’s chances of dehydration, and also frequent urination.
The Proper Way to Rehydrate
One’s body could end up losing up to a quart of water in 1 hour of exercising. Of course, this depends on the air temperature as well as the intensity of our exercise. The fluid needs of individuals can also vary.
For example, someone walking taking a 30-minute walk is bound to have different fluid needs than someone running a marathon. It’s also of crucial importance to start whatever activity we plan on doing fully hydrated.
So, the best thing is to drink 8 ounces of fluid about half an hour before exercising. During our active period, aim for 7-10 ounces every 20 minutes or so.
And most importantly, don’t forget to drink at least 8 ounces of fluid after we’re done to replenish our body’s fluid levels.
Keep in mind that the climate, as well as the duration and amount of exercising we do, also play a key role in how much fluid we’ll have to replenish once we’re done.
What Are The Best Options?
Now that we know when to refill fluids, the important question arises: Which fluids are the best option?
While it might be tempting to turn towards sports drinks, especially with all those commercials telling us how important proteins and electrolytes are or how they hire professional athletes to tell us what they drink, such as say, Gatorade.
Well, we can believe the commercial world or we can read on to see what is truly healthy to drink and what’s not. Our choice, dear readers.
Does it even surprise us that water is first on the list? Sure it’s not as exciting as other fluids, but it’s the healthiest option we’ve got.
If one listens to the American College of Sports Medicine, consuming good ol’ H2O works just as fine at keeping us hydrated for any activities which last less than an hour.
So, if water gets the job done for exercises lasting less than an hour, then surely water fortified with vitamins is an even better option, right? Well, not exactly. If we are already on a healthy, nutritious daily diet, then there is no need for any extra vitamins.
The same also goes if we are taking vitamin supplements. After all, there is such a thing as ‘too many vitamins, which is never a good thing. Moreover, we should be wary of some vitamin-fortified waters, since they can contain quite a large amount of carbs.
Such a thing was to be expected: now there are waters with added protein in them. Some water brands contain so much protein that it is equal to about 3 oz. of chicken meat.
But does one truly need protein water? Well, if we take strength training seriously or are competitive bodybuilders, chances are we could use some more protein. But we don’t have to necessarily get it from water; food sources work just fine.
Some people find plain old tap water too bland, and they always opt for a little flavor. Having said that, we should be very careful when choosing flavored water. What we mean by this is to carefully study the nutrition label.
We are sure we don’t need to tell it’s a good idea to avoid any waters with too many carbs or high caloric content. Our best option is to flavor our water ourselves using natural ingredients such as fresh berries, lemons, mint, cucumbers, and limes.
We can also go for flavored water with a nonnutritive sweetener.
Yes, the time has come to give these a closer look. While sports drinks are indeed full of potassium, sodium, magnesium, electrolytes, calcium, and sometimes even vitamins, they also contain sugars and carbs, which could end up spiking one’s sugar levels.
So, unless we’re hardcore athlete who works for over an hour daily, we don’t need these drinks.
They also contain sugar and sodium, which makes them similar to sports drinks. Also, to boost one’s alertness and performance, they are rather high in caffeine. Some even have specific herbs such as ginseng, guarana, and Gingko Biloba.
However, there is a downside to them. That’s right, they are also rather high in carbs and calories. Furthermore, their caffeine content may cause unwanted symptoms such as anxiety, heart palpitations, insomnia, and feeling jittery.
And while there are sugar-free energy drinks, the caffeine is still there.
We might think to ourselves: ‘Only kids drink this, don’t they?’ Well, some athletes might too, since it’s a great way to replenish one’s energy sources after a long, strenuous workout. It also contains electrolytes as sports drinks do.
Another plus side is that it has been proven to help boost one’s performance. But, take heed: as is to be expected, it is also rather high in carbs and calories. So, unless we’re doing light exercise, it isn’t necessary, as it can do more harm than good by setting us back on our weight loss goals.
Chances are we’ve spotted this drink on the shelves of our local supermarket. Maybe we’ve even tried some ourselves? This is the juice one finds inside a coconut which is still green. And make no mistake, it is different from coconut milk.
It not only contains electrolytes, but also fiber and even a little protein, which should make it a good choice for replenishing our levels, right? Hmm, that depends. For instance, if we happen to be serious athletes, then it’s probably better to stick to sports drinks.
If we like practicing sports to fill in our leisure time, then water is our best bet. Having said all this, if we happen to fancy the taste of coconut water, then we say go for it! Just make sure not to overdo it by keeping a watchful eye on those calories and carbs.
At the risk of repeating ourselves for the umpteenth time, staying well-hydrated and avoiding dehydration during active periods is key to maintaining one’s health.
As to which beverage suits us best, we’ll have to do the math ourselves based on the info we’ve provided. It can depend on many factors, after all.
The intensity of our activity, whether we have diabetes and need to watch our sugar levels, as well as the duration of the exercise itself. Always best to consult with a dietitian for guidance on which drink works best for us based on our health history.
We hope the information provided above will be of some help to us, dear readers. Stay fit and healthy!