Maintaining good hydration helps joints stay lubricated, aids the supply of nutrients to cells around the body and can help prevent infections.
It’s one of the key principles of pursuing fitness on any level and athletes regularly look at ways to develop the best hydration strategies, so it’s no wonder we are often bombarded with adverts for hydration drinks.
But are those drinks actually better than water for hydration? Built for Athletes takes a look.
The provision of electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium in most hydration drinks gives them an edge over plain H2O. Sodium (most commonly found in salt) is a particularly important supplement for endurance
athletes who lose a lot of the mineral through sweat. But it plays an important role for every athlete seeking more effective hydration due to the way it holds on to water and prevents as much fluid being lost through urine.
It’s not something most people think of when sipping a drink, but the concentration of particles within the liquid plays an important role in how well it is absorbed by the body. When drinks are labeled as isotonic, it means they have the same concentration of particles as blood.
However, the best fluids for keeping you hydrated have a slightly lower concentration, making them hypotonic drinks, which is what most drinks that have been expertly designed for hydration aim for.
Although isotonic drinks will still hydrate the body, they are less optimized for that purpose and therefore it is worth noting the concentration of your sports drink. Tap water itself is already hypotonic.
Beware Of Sugar
Many hydration drinks bought ready made in a supermarket contain a fair amount of sugar. This is particularly something to look out for if you’re trying to cut weight but it can also minimise hydration due to the water that is absorbed during the osmosis process to digest sugar.
So making sure your drink doesn’t contain as much sugar as soft drinks like cola or lemonade is a good idea.
Overall, the right hydration drinks can be more effective than water due to the electrolytes found in them. It is worth making sure you’re aware of exactly what your drink contains, though, and taking a little time to pick the best product for your needs.