As promised, Scratch is back with the low-down on healthy hydration. Last time we talked about the dangers of dehydration and the importance of drinkin’ yer water. Now let’s take a look at what’s the best way to get that hydratin’ help after your workout: water or sports drinks.
Water is the natural choice for hydration: it’s very available, you can get it for free, and you need it to live. For every 15-20 minutes of exercise, you should be drinkin’ around 4-6 ounces of water. Water is great for hydrating you, but a lot of people don’t like the taste very much. Since water is only good for you so long as ya drink it, a lot of people get more benefits from sports drinks since they’re more likely to drink more of ’em.
Most sports drinks don’t hydrate better than water, but you are more likely to drink ’em in larger volumes – leading to better hydration. That being said, there are some benefits that certain sports drinks give ya that water can’t. A lot of sports drinks will give ya much needed carbohydrates and electrolytes (like sodium, potassium, and magnesium) that get lost durin’ exercise. A good rule of thumb: if your activity lasts more than an hour, then you should be drinkin’ something with a little more oomph than plain ol’ tap water. Sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, and All Sport can give you that extra needed energy boost that you need if you’re gonna be workin’ out for a long time.
Fitness waters, like Propel and flavored waters, fall somewhere between the sports drinks and plain water. They contain fewer calories than sports drinks, but also offer less electrolytes. On the plus side, they offer more taste than plain water.
Juice may be very nutritious, but it is not necessarily the best choice for hydration. The fructose of juice reduces the rate of water absorption so you don’t hydrate as quickly. Since juice is kind of a food in its own right (especially as far as calories go) it also isn’t the best choice for hydration since you’ll have to drink so much of it before you can get fully hydrated. Drinkin’ several hundred calories worth of juice to hydrate after your exercise routine is not gonna be the best thing for your weight loss goals.
Carbonated Soft Drinks
When you get right down to it, these drinks just don’t offer anything good for your body. Between the sugars and the acids used to carbonate and flavor these sodas, not only are they bad for your waistline, but the acid in them can damage your teeth and even weaken your bones. Sodas are devoid of any nutritional content and are not a good source of hydration.
In the end, you’ve gotta go with what’ll actually hydrate you. If drinkin’ water ain’t exactly your cup of tea – then maybe a sports drink or a fitness water will be more your style. The most important thing is to avoid dehydration so even if sippin’ on the occasional soda after your workout helps you stay hydrated, then it’s better than not drinkin’ anything at all!