After a powerful and long workout, you might feel tempted to reach for a drink to replenish the fluids you just lost through sweating and quench your thirst. But with the myriad of sports drinks, enhanced water, energy drinks and others, how do you know to make the right choice for your body and overall health? Of course, you heard you needed to replace electrolytes in your body, but how do you choose what to drink? Today we will talk about exercise and hydration from the health perspective.
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Sports Drinks or Water – What Is the Best Choice?
There are plenty of sports drinks out there which indeed have plenty of qualities and help you go through your vigorous workout if you drink them before, during and after the exercise. They keep your body hydrated, they offer you the necessary energy and boost your electrolytes and mineral levels.
However, before you introduce your body to sports drinks, the first thing you need to be aware of is that many of them contain sugar, GMO, and artificial food coloring dyes – and none of these is actually good for your health in the long term. If you work out for fat loss or muscle building, you need to fully keep your sugar levels in check at all times.
Exercise and Hydration: Is Water the Answer?
Water has tremendous benefits for our health and all athletes know how important it is to have their hydration levels up and running. A more conservative approach to exercise and hydration is drinking plain, simple water. However, if you can’t stomach it you can make it more palatable if you add a slice of lemon / orange, mint leaves or even cucumber to it. Moreover, coconut water is a tremendous source of electrolytes (potassium, sodium, and magnesium) and it also contains fibers. Just fill up your wide mouth BPA-free water bottle with coconut water or plain water and have your body functioning again after a strenuous workout. As a piece of advice, make sure that no matter what water you choose, it doesn’t contain too much sugar.
When Is It a Good Time to Have Sports Drinks?
Many athletes mistakenly consider that every average gym session asks for an electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks. Professionals in the field beg to differ, though. The answer lies in how much you really sweat during an exercise. If your workout lasts more than 1.5 hours and you engage in vigorous training, a sports drink may fuel you with energy and restore your body. However, moderate exercise lasting less than an hour doesn’t call for sports drinks packed with electrolytes. Moreover, if you exercise for an hour and a half in a cool environment (where is less likely to sweat too much), water will do just fine.
Are There Any Electrolytes Replacements Besides Sports Drinks?
Specialists in the field feel that all athletes should know that there are other more natural and healthier methods to replace your electrolytes levels after a workout besides sports drinks. Such methods include:
- Eating a banana, a yogurt or some boiled potatoes to replenish your potassium levels.
- Having a cup of milk or yogurt to replace calcium.
- Snack on pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashew nuts, spinach or beans to replenish magnesium.
- Snack on some whole-grain crackers, low-fat cheese or bagels to replace sodium – however, count your calories and read the labels.
When it comes to exercise and hydration, you should know that you can make your own energy drinks and electrolyte sports drinks with water, natural fresh fruit juices, a pinch of salt and lemon juice to top it all. Some sports professionals advocate for water, while others for sports drinks. If you are serious about your vigorous workouts, have a chat with your doctor before making your choices in hydration.
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