Staying Hydrated During a Workout: Water vs. Electrolyte Infused Drinks

An intense workout is a great feeling, and it’s a great thing to do for your body. However, without proper hydration, you can end up doing a lot more damage than good. The importance of staying hydrated while exercising can’t be stressed enough, but what’s the most effective way of doing that? Water has been the obvious choice for humans and most other animals, but the development of sports drinks using electrolytes suggest that they may be an even more effective way of keeping yourself hydrated.

Water vs. Electrolyte

The electrolytes commonly found in sports drinks contain an abundance of ions which are used to make you more electrically conductive. Your body loses electrolytes while you sweat, along with potassium salts and water. Sports drinks contain all three of these, but there are some questions as to whether or not they’re needed.

While exercising your body uses a lot of reserves in its body to replace much of what you so through sweat, so while you do lose electrolytes while working out, you may not need to replace them so quickly to keep your body healthy. Water is slowly absorbed through he stomach, but even that slow speed seems to be sufficient to keep your body in good condition while exercising, albeit with diminishing returns over time. It’s much more important to be as hydrated as possible before you start working out instead of relying on a boost later on during your routine.

Of course, you can only hydrate yourself so much, and there is a point where your body has lost so many electrolytes that a boost is necessary. Doctors place this time at around 3 hours of intense working out.

Although there is obvious bias towards using water, you may prefer the taste of some sports drinks, or perhaps just happen to engage in intense workout regularly. There are some important things to keep in mind when looking for an electrolyte-infused beverage though. In spite of their bold claims, electrolytes are commonly found in non-sports drinks such juice and milk. You can also get a healthy dose from eating fruits and vegetables.

Of course, if those aren’t appetizing, there are a lot of recipes online for homemade electrolyte drinks. Some of them can be quite tasty, and are relatively easy to make with no need for special ingredients outside of what you can find at a grocery store.

If you’d rather purchase a sports drink though, there are a few things you should be checking. A lot of sports drinks are filled with sugar, which can be a lot of empty calories while working out. Your body does make use of the sugar for a quick boost, but your daily dose of sugar should only be about 40 grams. Many sports drinks contain 50 or more grams of sugar, which is way more than your body needs. If you’re exercising to lose weight, sports drinks can outdo a lot of what you’re trying to accomplish.

One way to offset this is to mix your sports drink with water. Filling half a container with water and the other with your sports drink will effectively cut the sugar content in half. This will also reduce the amount of electrolytes you get, but it’s still more effective than drinking water alone. It’s also a quick solution to using a healthier electrolyte laden drink when you may not have time to make your own.

Remember that hydration is incredibly vital while working out, and though your body does a great job of keeping your levels even, those undergoing intense workout such as training for a marathon may be losing valuable chemicals that may not be easily replaced by water. For everyone else who need only worry about staying hydrated during an hour long work out at the gym, try to get as hydrated as possible before starting, and remember that water will probably be an effective way of staying hydrated.

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