Hydration is a must during workouts for many reasons. Your body needs sufficient fluid intake to replace the fluids including the electrolytes lost due to perspiration, as well as to ensure that your cardiovascular system performs well under the pressure of exercise. Your body will give the appropriate signals, primarily feelings of thirst, when more fluids are required.
But while we know the importance of proper hydration during workouts, there are also more questions about it. What are the best fluids to drink? How much should you drink? Here’s what you need to know.
Thought #1: Energy Drinks Have Their Place
Contrary to popular opinion, there’s more to energy drinks than caffeine and sugar, the two ingredients that primarily provide the energy boost its consumers are looking for. Red Bull, for example, contains 27 grams (106 calories) of carbohydrates, which are necessary for energy production, too.
There’s also the fact that energy drinks also come in sugar-free varieties. The extra burst of energy that comes from drinking these especially-formulated beverages then comes from other ingredients aside from sugar, such as the ones described below.
Indeed, energy drinks have their rightful place in the lives of athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and ordinary exercisers. Scientists have provided solid evidence that caffeine in moderate quantities is a safe, effective and efficient stimulant for relatively healthy adults. Caffeine also provides performance-enhancing benefits, such as a boost in stamina, strength, and reaction times, as well as in stimulating concentration and alertness.
Water is, of course, still the best choice for hydration during workouts, especially when it’s consumed cold for a more refreshing feeling. But many people don’t like drinking water during workouts for their own reasons. This is where cold energy drinks come in because people are more likely to drink them because of their refreshing flavors and feelings.
In the end, the more important thing is to get sufficient hydration during your workouts. If you want to mix up your beverage selection while also getting an energy boost, then you should consider a bottle or two of energy drinks with your cold water.
But be careful about drinking energy drinks during competitions due to the strict guidelines about the use performance enhancers. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, for example, bans caffeine levels equivalent to five coffee drinks from Starbucks. This shouldn’t be a problem, fortunately, since a single bottle of Red Null only has 70 milligrams of caffeine, which is less than half of the caffeine content in a single 12-ounce Starbucks coffee.
Most energy drinks have other ingredients for an energy boost aside from the caffeine. These include Vitamin B complex, taurine, and ginseng, which are also used in nutritional supplements approved for use in consumers.
Thought #2: Fluid Replacement Guidelines
Fluid replacement is a must during and after workouts, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. The fluids can be unflavoured (i.e. water) or flavoured (e.g., energy drinks) with the latter increasing in popularity, partly because it promotes fluid replacement through enhanced palatability. Think about it this way: Getting your hydration from an energy drink is better than not getting it from water.
But how will you know when it’s time for fluid replacement? The basic guideline is that fluid replacement is necessary when you have exercised for 1.5 to 3 hours because of the fluid losses from perspiration.
The longer you have exercised and the heavier you have sweated, the higher the need for fluid replacement to replace both the nutrient and fluid losses. The nutrients include potassium and sodium, both of which are essential for normal body functioning.
Your body will send signals regarding the amount of fluids it needs. If you feel tired faster or feel thirsty more, then you probably need to drink more water and a bottle or two of your favorite energy drink. You should start with a bottle of water and energy drink each after an hour of exercise, for example, and then decide to add more water or flavoured drink as you go along.
But don’t just stop with the fluids! You should also consider the types of food that you consumer before, during and after your workouts. You should feed your body with nutritious foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, legumes, nuts, seeds, and protein shakes or bars, so that you will have more energy for your workouts.
You must also look at your rest and recovery periods, stress management coping mechanisms, and overall lifestyle habits, if you want to see good results from your workouts. Your wholistic approach to health and fitness will produce the best results instead of just focusing on fluid replacement despite its importance.