In continuing my excerpts from the article The New Rules of Hydration By Matt Fitzgerald • Her Sports + Fitness Magazine, I realized that a lot of these are geared towards specifically athletes. I wanted to keep including them because spending all day in a room full of toddlers definitely qualifies you as an athlete and its even more important that you stay equipped to care for them!
Old: Use either a sports drink or water for hydration.
New: Use a sports drink instead of water.
Prior to 2003, USA Track & Field’s hydration guidelines for runners suggested that water and sports drinks were equally good choices for hydration during intense physical activity. But, based on new research concerning the risks of blood sodium dilution, the USATF revised its hydration guidelines stating, “A sports drink with sodium and other electrolytes is preferred.” Athletes in other sports are now following these guidelines as well.
In short, sports drinks simply hydrate better than water does. Your body absorbs fluids through the gut and into the bloodstream faster when their osmolality, the concentration of dissolved particles in a fluid, more closely matches the osmolality of body fluids such as blood.
Because a sports drink contains dissolved minerals (key electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphate) and carbohydrates, it’s absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly than water, which has fewer or no dissolved particles.
Moreover, electrolytes and other nutrients play important roles in regulating fluid in the body. They help determine how much fluid enters muscle fibers and cells, and how much remains in the blood. That’s why sports drinks do a better job than water of helping the body maintain an optimal fluid balance.
Water is fine for short (less than an hour) workouts of easy to moderate intensity in which you don’t sweat a lot. But in any workout where sweat losses are substantial, and especially in warm weather, use a sports drink.
Old: Protein exacerbates dehydration.
New: Protein enhances hydration.
The first generation of sports drinks contained no protein because it was believed to slow the absorption of fluid into the bloodstream from the stomach and intestine. But new evidence suggests that a small amount of protein actually enhances both fluid absorption and retention in athletes.
A recent study from the Universidad Catolica San Antonio inSpainfound that a carb-protein sports drink actually entered the bloodstream significantly faster than a carb-only sports drink when used by cyclists pedaling at a moderately high intensity level.
In another study from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, athletes retained a carb-protein sports drink 15 percent better than a carb-only drink, meaning 15 percent less of it was wasted in the bladder. “A small amount of protein in a sports drink may enhance absorption and retention by increasing osmolality,” says Robert Portman, Ph.D., and CEO of PacificHealth Labs, manufacturer of the protein-powered Accelerade sports drink.
“Small” is the operative word. Packing your water bottle with protein powder is not the secret to peak performance. Too much protein slows absorption and hampers hydration. Research shows that sports drinks containing only about five grams of protein per 12 oz. not only re-hydrate better, but also reduce muscle damage and increase endurance compared to drinks without protein. Recently, the International Society of Sports Nutrition recommended the use of protein-added sports drinks by both competitive athletes and daily exercisers.