Running and other workouts can leave you dehydrated, and while it may seem logical to have a sports drink to re-hydrate, many of them (if not all of them) are filled with artificial ingredients, and tons of sugar. While they do provide important electrolytes, they still are not the best choice when it comes to hydration, especially after racing, or training. There are better options, but before we talk about those let’s first understand what it takes to stay hydrated in the first place.
What to Drink and When
Start your day, every day with at least 2, 8 oz glasses of water. It’s best to have one soon after you wake up and you want to continue to drink during the day, and not just at meals. If you are thirsty, you’re already dehydrated so be sure you have a cool water bottle you don’t mind having around and sip from it throughout the day. Just remember that it is possible to over hydrate and drink too much water, this condition is called a hyponatraemic state and it can be fatal. As a general rule, consume about 8, 8 oz glasses of water every day.
What is an electrolyte anyway? It’s what motivates us to purchase and consume sports drinks filled with artificial colors, sugars and unnecessary calories but why exactly do we need them? Electrolytes are substances that contain free ions making them electrically conductive, and physiologically the primary ions of electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, hydrogen phosphate, and hydrogen carbonate. These gradients are important to a variety of body processes including hydration, blood pH, and are critical to proper nerve and muscle function. Without the proper balance of these electrolytes muscle weakness, and/or sever muscle contractions can occur along with other medical emergencies.(1)
Post-Workout Hydration and Replacing Lost Electrolytes
Electrolyte drinks which contain sodium, potassium and other key nutrients help replenish your body’s lost water, and electrolyte levels after intense exercise. When your body is dehydrated you can experience a variety of health problems. But if you don’t want to consume sports drinks what else is there?
Watch this short video for the low-down on Sports Drinks:
Regular sports drinks contain: Water, sucrose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, citric acid, natural grape flavor with other natural flavors, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, red 40, Blue 1. This is taken straight from the Grape flavored Gatorade bottle. Are you up for some re-hydrating alternatives? Check these out!
Natural Hydration Tabs- The leader in portable hydration, these tabs are an ideal, and convenient way to help keep you hydrated. Learn more about nuun electrolyte enhanced drink tabs at their website here.
Coconut Water– Pure coconut water made with natural fruit purees, and it naturally contains five essential electrolytes, plus more potassium than a banana! With no added sugar and no fat, it’s the most natural way to rehydrate and replenish lost nutrients.
Emergen-C- Make water into a sports drink instantly to replenish, and rehydrate. The regular Emergen-C contains electrolytes, but they also make an Electro Mix formula that has zero calories, is naturally flavored, and sweetened with Stevia. Get your Free Sample HERE.
Fruit Juices- Try orange juice, lemon juice, and apple juice.
Sports Drink Recipe
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup freshly squeezed of lemon juice
1/2 cup dark cherry juice (no added sugar)
1/2 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed if available)
Directions: Pour 1/2 cup of the distilled water in a saucepan and heat to boiling, remove from heat, add honey and salt and stir until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients to a 1/2 gallon pitcher, pour in water with honey and salt, stir and refrigerate. Drink before, during and after long runs of 3 or more miles.