I would say that sport’s drinks like Gatorade, Propel, and Powerade are some of the most controversial products when it comes to hydration. You have the people who are firmly in the water-is-the-only-hydration-you-need camp and then you have others who are firmly in the you-need-to-replenish-your-electrolytes-after-activity camp. Then you have those in the murky middle ground who believe sometimes you need sports drinks and sometimes you don’t. It can be very confusing.
I am somewhere in the murky middle ground. It all depends on the activity you’ve been doing and how long you’ve been active for. The vast majority of us don’t do enough work or exercise that will require anything other than water to rehydrate. There is no need for a Gatorade after a 20-minute workout or to hand out sports drinks after a kids soccer game. There are a few instances where you do need to replenish your electrolyte levels with something other than just water.
People who run/train for marathons, triathlons, Ironman competitions, or any other grueling endurance sport are probably going to need something more than just water. That is because they are asking their bodies to work at full capacity for a long period of time. Anything more than a 90-minute workout session is going to probably warrant a little extra attention to your hydration levels.
Now, here is my other sticking point: I think that commercially sold sports drinks are NOT the way to replenish your fluids and electrolytes. They’re full of sugar and other ingredients that actually make you thirstier than you were before. How else would they sell their product? If one drink made rehydrated you, you wouldn’t need another. Plus you’re getting way more calories than you need from a drink.
Lucky for you, it’s easy to make your own sports drink that will rehydrate you as well as replenish your electrolyte levels without the calories, sugar, or any other possible weird ingredients. You can make these in advance of a tough workout or activity and have them ready to go when you’re done. You can play with the levels of citrus and natural sweetener to suit your tastes.
You can play with the levels of citrus and natural sweetener to suit your tastes and if you don’t want or can’t find coconut water, regular water works just as well. And yes, I know there is salt in here and you’re going to tell me that is ridiculous because we all know that salt makes you thirstier. Yes, BUT, you also need the proper amount of sodium levels in your body to rehydrate and absorb minerals like potassium. If you’ve been sweating like crazy, then you have been losing a lot of sodium as well and need to replenish those stores. So don’t skip the salt (and make sure you use sea salt NOT regular table salt), it won’t make you thirstier and you won’t be choking down a salty drink.
- 1 cup coconut water or regular water (make sure it’s just plain coconut water, no added sugars)
- 1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp honey or maple syrup (less or more to suit your taste)
- pinch of sea salt
- Put everything into a blender and blend for a few seconds. Taste and adjust things as needed.
Keep this drink stored in the fridge up to 2 days before you need it. You can also double or triple this recipe to make sure that you have enough on hand for when it’s needed.
Water is important. Not to be Captain Obvious here, but without water you and your body do not function. Your body needs an adequate supply of water to carry out it’s everyday normal functions. Water helps move your blood through your system, which in turn helps your organs function, which then make you function. Water helps you perform at your best, not just with normal things like breathing but also with tougher things such as exercising. Being dehydrated even just 1% decreases your performance by 5%. Water also helps to keep your metabolism going, your skin glowing, your hair shiny, and your appetite in check. Just to make things even tougher, you’re constantly losing water. Not just through sweat, but even things like exhaling cause you to lose water. So you NEED to make sure you’re replacing all that water loss.
Summer time is usually when we really keep tabs on our hydration. Nothing like 90 degree weather to help remind you to drink water. But as we start to enter into fall and the colder months you still need to keep tabs on your hydration, maybe even more so than in the summer. During the winter (I know, I know, you don’t want to even be thinking about winter, but it’s coming) it is so easy to forget to drink water throughout the day. You’re not sweating profusely, the sun isn’t blazing down on you, and let’s face it, snuggling in front of the fireplace with a big glass of water doesn’t sound too cozy. But the colder months tend to be drier which can suck moisture out of your body. And because your body needs all that water, you have to make sure you replace it.
If you find it hard to get enough water into your day, or you need some ideas on how to make water a little more fun (it can be a little boring sometimes), here are a few tips to help keep you hydrated and healthy!
- Carry a refillable water bottle with you all the time. If you have water with you at all times it makes it easier to remember to drink water throughout the day
- Find a fun water bottle. It might sound silly, but having a cool or new water bottle might make you drink more water. A while back I bought this camelbak water bottle and the straw was so cool that I found myself downing about three full bottles a day. While I didn’t enjoy running to the bathroom every 2 minutes, I did get adequate water intake!
- Add fruit. If you’re one of those people who hates the taste of water or thinks it’s so boring, try adding some fruit. Think beyond lemon or lime and try fresh berries, watermelon, or even things like mint leaves. Having a little natural flavor can help you to drink more water
- Try some ice. For me, the idea of a room temperature glass of water is not appealing. Adding ice cubes to your water can help make it more palatable, plus ice cold water may rev up your metabolism and help burn more calories.
- Eat high water content foods. While you still need to make sure you are drinking water, you can also eat your water. Foods that have a high water content can help to contribute to your overall water intake. Eat things like celery, lettuce, leafy greens, or melons (especially watermelon!) to help your water.
- Set a schedule. If you’re really busy throughout the day and just forget to drink water, set a reminder on your phone to have a glass or so every hour. Or you could do this and make sure that you’re drinking a certain amount by certain times during the day.
Making sure that you get enough water is a really important part of being healthy. The rule for a long time has been eight 8 oz glasses a day, but don’t focus on a certain number of glasses or ounces. As long as you drink water throughout the day, you should be properly hydrated. If you workout, make sure you replace the extra water lost through sweating. Unless you’re an Olympic athlete, just stick with plain water. You don’t need any fancy rehydration drink full of vitamins and electrolytes. A healthy and balanced diet along with enough regular water will help you function just fine! Long story short, go drink some water!