Archive for the tag - hydration

Drink This After Exercise.

11-Greg-Plitt-fotoA lot has been written about post-workout recovery drinks, but a new study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism puts the science to the test.

For the study, researchers compared the rehydration potential of a sports drink (in this instance, Powerade) to cow’s milk, soy milk and a milk-based liquid meal supplement call Sustagen Sport. Fifteen male participants were recruited for a series of cycling workouts while consuming different beverage options – and key biometric measures were monitored.

The milk-based liquid meal supplement resulted in better fluid retention than the other drinks. However, all of the beverages performed better than Powerade. Since sports drinks like Powerade are specifically marketed as hydrating beverages for athletes, the conclusion of the study might come as a surprise.

There is a caveat. Those who drank milk reported feeling more bloated and full, and the sports drink was ranked as the best tasting.

Of course, rehydration isn’t the only post-workout concern. After a workout, it’s important to give your body carbohydrates to restore muscle glycogen and sufficient protein so that your body can rebuild and repair your muscles. As I’m not a fan of cow’s milk, I prefer a bowl of cereal with almond milk, along with a powdered protein shake.

What’s your preferred post-workout meal or drink? Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. For science-based nutrition advice that works, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter.

Study: Drink Water Only When Thirsty!

tumblr_lyjbxs1KGq1qeucjro5_250In years past, we’ve been advised to drink water before we’re thirsty during exercise. By the time you’re thirsty, they said, you’re already dehydrated. And that still may be true. But researchers are finding that our bodies are actually well equipped to deal with some dehydration during physical activity. Moreover, they’ve found that more water may not be a good thing.

During physical activity, our bodies sweat to release excess heat. It’s like a built-in air conditioning system. However, when we don’t replace the fluids lost by sweat, dehydration occurs. As a result, your body may not have enough fluids to carry out its normal functions.

But a slew of recent studies are showing that some dehydration does not necessarily have a negative impact on performance or on overall health. In fact, it may be a good thing.

Case in point, a study by researchers at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. They broke exercisers into three groups. The first group drank by thirst, the second group hydrated at moderate rate and the third group hydrated at a heavy rate. After completing three, 2-hour workouts, researchers found that there was no difference in body temperature or finishing times among the groups. The did find, however, that some individuals in the heavily hydrated group experienced stomach pains and couldn’t complete the workout.

In another study of marathon runners in France, researchers found that the fastest runners (who completed the course in under three hours) had lost 3.1% of their body weight through sweat and/or urine. They were faster – and significantly more dehydrated than – their slower counterparts.

In yet another study, researchers from University of Sherbrooke in Quebec analyzed various clinical trials. They discovered that mild hydration is perfectly safe – and that it can actually provide a boost to performance. After examining different groups of cyclists, those who only drank when they were thirsty had the best times.

But why? Researchers speculate that drinking too much water can dilute the concentration of sodium and other electrolytes in the blood. This is especially pronounced during longer periods of physical exercise.

The important thing to remember is that when it comes to hydration during exercise, listen to your body. If you’re thirsty, drink.


How Much Water Should You Drink?

tumblr_m28bi2R0JD1qj4hmpo1_500As I’ve mentioned before, drinking enough water is absolutely essential. Aside from keeping your body functioning properly, water can boost your metabolism, clear up your skin and even help curb hunger. And that’s just for starters.

So just how much water should you drink each day? It depends. The answer is dependent on a number of factors including gender, activity level, environment, health conditions and whether or not you’re pregnant or nursing.

While most of us have heard that we need to drink eight glasses of water a day, the reality is a bit different. According to the Mayo Clinic, men should aim for about 13 cups of water per day (3 liters) and women should drink 9 cups (2.2 liters). It’s a bit more than what we’ve been taught in the past.

If you exercise, you’ll need to consume more liquid – and possibly a sports drink (or something with sodium) to replenish electrolytes. The amount that you’ll need depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise performed.

Moreover, the environment plays a big factor. If it’s hot or humid, it’s important to replace liquids lost from sweating. Higher altitudes will also cause increased urination; additional liquid consumption is advised.

And, of course, many illnesses and health conditions require additional liquids. As does pregnancy or nursing.

But if you’re looking for a simple tip to help get your daily water intake, pick yourself up two, 1-liter water bottles (or three, 1-liter bottles if you’re a guy). On the bottles, mark a water goal for each hour or two. As your day progresses, make sure you’ve kept up to the goal. You can keep the bottles in a refrigerator or even just nearby on your desk. By the end of the day, you’ll have consumed the full amount.

It’s a really easy tip to help build a healthy water habit!

The Dehyrdation Myth & Running.

Nearly half of runners drink too much water. Are you one of them?

There’s no question that water consumption is critically important – and obviously necessary for survival. And, in fact, many of us don’t consume the recommended amount of H2O. But a recent study by Loyola University Health Systems found that nearly half of recreational runners might be drinking too much water during races.

Consider, for a minute, our early ancestors. When chasing or hunting down a meal, our ancestors didn’t encounter tables with small cups of water marking each mile – as a modern marathoner might. There wasn’t time to stop and get a drink; the hunt was on, and so the body evolved to run distances without hydration.

According to the Loyola study, which was published in the June, 2011, issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, “Many athletes hold unscientific views regarding the benefits of different hydration practices.”

Drinking too much fluid while running can lead to a potentially fatal condition called hyponatremia. When runners consume too much fluid, the sodium content of the body’s blood can drop to dangerously low levels. In fact, the study’s co-author, Lara Dugas, PhD, references 20 recent documented or suspected deaths from hyponatremia. It’s not theoretical; it happens.

To avoid hyponatremia, experts recommend that runners only drink when your body craves it. While marketers have warned us about the dangers of dehydration, runners need to find the appropriate balance. Dugas concludes:

We have been trained to believe that dehydration is a complication of endurance exercise. But in fact, the normal physiological response to exercise is to lose a small amount of fluid. Runners should expect to lose several pounds during runs, and not be alarmed.

Bottom line: Listen to your body and only drink when it is signaling thirst.

Yes, Drinking Cold Water Does Burn Calories. But…

I'll drink to that!

Yesterday, I wrote about a popular myth involving the importance of drinking hot water with your mealstotally untrue. But it seems that I have opened a Pandora’s box. My inbox was flooded with questions about the exact opposite: Cold water.

There is a common belief that drinking cold water is beneficial because the body must work to heat the water to its internal temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius). Inquiring minds want to know if this true – or if it’s yet another popular misconception.

Turns out, it is true. Sorta.

The body does use calories to heat cold water, but the body is very efficient. Let’s take an example wherein one cup of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius). You drink it, and your internal temperature is a normal 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius). The body will spend about 8 calories to increase the water temperature. That’s it. It’s the caloric equivalent of 1/6th an Oreo cookie.

In case it’s of interest to you, the formula is pretty simple: It takes 1 calorie to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius. But, since we’re converting calories to the kilo-calories that we see on nutritional labels, we must divide the result by 1,000 to get your answer.

Even though ice water doesn’t burn a significant number of calories, proper hydration does provide a number of great benefits. So don’t let this information deter you – drink up!

Need tips to stay hydrated? Check out my top six.

6 BEST Tips to Stay Hydrated!

You’ve probably heard that the average person needs to drink 8 to 10 cups of water per day to make up what the body uses and loses. But for active folks who exercise, that number can easily double.

Drinking upwards of 20 cups a day is a challenge, so here are a few tips to help you get yours:

  1. Make it smart. Knowing why your body needs water – and realizing all the amazing benefits it provides – can serve as motivation to help you drink up. Decreased risk of cancer, clearer skin and increased productivity are a few of the reasons to stay hydrated. Water also aids in fat loss – it curbs appetite, replaces sugary drinks and boosts your metabolism. Knowing this can keep you motivated.
  2. Make it mindless. If you’re going to consume 64 – 200 fluid ounces of water (8 – 20 cups), then drinking it will need to be super convenient. Have you ever noticed how if you leave a bag of chips open while watching TV, you somehow manage to mindlessly eat the entire bag? Take advantage of mindless consumption by leaving a pitcher or water bottle in your workspace or at home. You’ll take a sip here, and a sip there – and before you know it, it’s all gone! I’m actually putting this point to practice right now with a quart-size water bottle. Try it – I swear it works!
  3. Make it fun. If you like pretty things (who doesn’t?!), put your water in a special container. You can buy a nalgene (those unbreakable plastic bottles) or a fancy chrome mug. Presentation counts, and so perhaps water will be more appetizing in a pretty container.
  4. Make it flavorful. Drinking large quantities of water can get a bit monotonous, so you might benefit from switching things up. I don’t recommend adding sugary powders to water as you’ll dramatically increase the number of empty calories you are consuming. I also avoid sugar-free drink mixes; I’m personally weary of artificial sweeteners in bulk. But… adding a slice of citrus fruit can make a noticeable and welcomed difference. If you need more flavor, squeeze half of a lemon, lime, grapefruit or orange into your glass or pitcher.
  5. Make it a pre-meal tradition. Drink a tall glass of water 15-30 minutes before you eat. Thirst is often misinterpreted by the mind as hunger. You feel hungry, but your body is thirsty. So, drink water before each meal. Not only will you be increasing your hydration, but you’ll probably drop a few pounds in the process.
  6. Make it the first thing you do in the morning. We all have a morning routine. We wake up, brush our teeth, take a shower and so on. Once your feet hit the floor, walk to the kitchen and start your day right: With water. It will help replace lost fluids during sleep (when we wake up, our bodies have often gone without food or drink for more than 8 hours). I prefer room temperature water in the morning, but do what works for you!

I hope these tips help you honor your body and your life with proper hydration. If you have any additional tips, please share them in the comments below!