Dehydration: When Water Isn’t Enough

Now that temperatures are on the rise and we’re all ready for more outdoor activity, remember to drink enough fluid to maintain stamina and avoid dehydration.

The main reason for getting tired during extended periods of exercise is loss of fluid by sweating. This can cause dehydration and break down the body’s carbohydrate stores that provide fuel (energy) for activity. Studies show that even limited fluid loss can reduce the capacity to continue the keep moving, so be sure to drink enough during exercise.

The best drink options contain carbohydrates (to replace the body’s fuel) and electrolytes (to promote hydration). Extensive studies show that sports drinks with both carbohydrates and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) are better than plain water to improve performance and rehydrate, especially during interval training.

Plain water dilutes the blood and decreases electrolyte concentration. The body misinterprets this as enough hydration, signals the excretion of fluids and reduces the feeling of thirst, even though hydration isn’t adequate. That’s why exercisers often refrain from drinking during a workout.

The Right Stuff to Avoid Dehydration

On the other hand, sports drinks with electrolytes increase blood and sodium concentration. The body reacts appropriately by conserving fluids, reducing urine output and increasing thirst. Carbohydrates rapidly replace depleted energy stores, which increases stamina and improves performance.

When shopping for sports drinks, read the ingredient and nutrition information on label. Look for something with minerals and about 15 grams of carbohydrate maximum–and keep an eye on the calories.

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