Nothing feels as good as a cool glass of water with a little something extra in it when you’ve been working out or playing hard at some sport.
And your instinctive craving for this refreshment is not to be ignored.
Getting enough water – staying hydrated – as you work out is essential.
As your metabolism speeds up during exercise, your body uses water for the chemical reactions involved.Furthermore, you’re losing water as you sweat -your body’s way of trying to keep your body temperature steady.
Sometimes you can literally measure the water loss by the cupful.My husband goes through two handkerchiefs on a bike ride.You can literally wring them out afterwards.
But it’s not just water you lose with the sweat.You lose electrolytes – electrically charged atoms such as potassium, sodium, chloride, calcium and magnesium.
These ions perform an intricate dance inside your body, reacting to each other.They help maintain a balance of water and dissolved nutrients between your blood and inside your cells, helping your muscles and nerves react appropriately.
And deep within your cells, at the center of energy creation – in your mitochondria (the body’s energy plants) – these electrolytes help your body produce ATP. ATP is your body’s energy currency.
So while a cool glass of water is fine for a short game of tag or badminton, for longer, more demanding activities, you need to replace your electrolytes as well.
Careful, many of the sports drinks on the market that promise electrolyte replacement also bring along too much sugar.All your hard work can easily be erased by the unnecessary calories in these drinks.
A little sugar to pep you up when you’re moving isn’t bad.But notice the emphasis on “little”. Most sports drinks have way too much sugar in them. A bottle of Gatorade can be like shooting yourself in the foot while jogging.
Instead look for something with a minimal amount of sugar in it.
One of our favorites is Nuun. Nuun is actually a tablet you add to your water.It is effervescent and dissolves quickly on its own to add electrolytes, a hint of sweetness and some fruity flavor to your water.It’s refreshing, restorative and reasonable in calories.
And we love its packaging as well.Waterproof, recyclable plastic tubes filled with tablets that are easy to toss in a backpack and add to your water bottle as needed. However, I’d be cautious about adding it to a camelback because of the extra cleaning necessary. Although it does have less sticky sugar than other drinks.
Bottom line: Always make sure you have water on hand when exercising. Even in the cold. (I bring a water bottle skiing and snowboarding!)
And for more challenging activities, restore your electrolytes as well.