The truth behind proper hydration
Whether you are a marathon runner, footy player or a mother running after her child, hydration is key to getting you over the edge. Hydration is often considered more important than what you are eating.
No, I am not just talking about drinking water and avoiding the sugary drinks. I am talking about proper hydration. The type of hydration that will fuel your muscles in such a way that physical strength, elevated energy and mental clarity is not only desirable but attainable.
Are you drinking what it’s selling?
There are a number of commercial sports drinks on the shelves that are complicating things and ineffectively causing dehydration. Ultimate hydration is a replenishing balanced solution comprised of amino acids, electrolytes and glucose.
In many sporting drinks, there is an imbalance in the concentration of the liquid. Often the sodium levels are too low and the carbohydrate is too high.
If a concentration is too high it will affect the osmolarity within the body. For example, a solution of 5-8% carbohydrate will cause water to be pulled from vascular spaces outside the gut, to dilute the higher concentration of the liquid within the gut.
Therefore, water is theoretically being pulled from where you are needing it and is sent to your digestive system to dilute the liquid sitting in your gut before being absorbed.
Let’s talk circulatory system vs activity and the impact it has there!
Blood circulates around to the muscles, delivering fuel and nutrients while in exchange sweeping up waste and heat produced by the muscle. Where it is then taken to the skin, dumping heat via sweating.
This process of sweating involves pulling the water from the blood plasma to be delivered to the skin to help cool the body. The more you sweat theoretically means more water is being pulled and effectively dropping the blood plasma volume. A drop in blood plasma volume urges a demand for water, which results in water being pulled from vascular spaces to keep up with sweating. Meaning these spaces need to be properly hydrated to supply the water as needed.
A drop in blood plasma volume causes viscous blood, meaning the heart will need to work harder and therefore, blood pressure will also increase. Not good for hypertension and certainly not good for endurance performance.
Rising heart rate means declining power output and with the rise in core temperature will mean reduced performance. The more your core temperature rises, the quicker your muscles fatigue and soon the central nervous system is compromised – forcing you to stop.
So when it comes to those sports drinks, here’s what to know –
The battle between the skin (sweating) and muscle (power) is trying enough let alone adding a poorly constructed sporting drink, that will further strain this battle by sucking water from where it’s needed to assist dilution, negating its original intent.
Hydration is key! So to perform your best and feel your best, aim for a sporting drink with a carbohydrate concentration no higher than 3-4% and also avoiding sugars; maltodextrin and fructose (likely to cause digestive upset) and a sodium concentration around 180-225mg.
Get your hydration plan set up properly before an event, see how it works, helping maximize your performance. Rachel Fox, our Sports and Health Nutritionist can assess and assist your needs.