We had a previous article on the importance of staying hydrated, How Important is Drinking Enough Water? We’re going to talk here about the role of sugar and salts in the hydration process during strenuous workouts.
The best way to stay hydrated during exercise is to sip water continuously throughout. Workouts of an hour or less require nothing more than regular water to do the trick. Be careful of carbonated water as it fills the stomach with air and makes you feel full before you drink enough.
One to three hour workouts benefit from having a drink that contains some carbohydrates as part of the mix, which help you maintain blood sugar. Don’t drink too much sugar or carbs in the mix, though. Anything more than 8 percent carbs or 19 grams of carbohydrate (76 calories) per 8 ounces will not empty from your stomach quickly, actually up to twice as slow depending on the mixture.
Salt and sodium take on a huge role in hydration when the exercise session lasts more than three hours, and is in fact more critical for health than sugar at this point. About 2 grams of salt is lost per hour of exercise, which for a normal person and a moderate level of exercise is no issue at all because the sodium will be replenished probably as soon as the next meal is consumed. Salt loss becomes debilitating to the body when the exercise session lasts more than 4 hours and salt is not replaced. This is exactly the case of what happens on long hikes and bike rides, marathons and triathlons. If only water is consumed with not salt, a condition occurs called hyponatremia, or “water intoxication.” The key is to remain hydrated AND keep the salt levels up. A great supplement to help with hydration is Glycerol Infusion by Scifit for Super Hydration.
This is not something the average athlete or gym member who works out once a day for an hour or less has to worry about: they replenish their minerals and fluids with food and water. This advice is for the ultramarathoners, hikers, adventure racers and other athletes who exercise for hours on end, sometimes for days, and who require the balance of minerals in their blood to be maintained.
Here is where the use of sports drinks can help. These bottles drinks and powdered sports-drink mixes contain sugars and salts in the form a dehydrated body will need during the long workouts. Putting these in along with your water intake can do the trick, making sure that 220 mg of sodium is consumed for every three hours of exercise. Try this amazing supplement: Cytosport by Cytomax