As adults, we are under a lot of pressure – from our jobs, our families, our friends, and sometimes, even the media. We’ve all Googled how to lose weight and eat better, but how many of us have actually stuck to our goals, be they of a New Year’s resolution vein or something we strive toward every day? Read on to find out more about how you can improve your healthy habits by taking in plenty of electrolytes and exercise.
Electrolytes are key to healthy muscle function and warding off dehydration. But as the weather heats up during these summer months, dehydration can be a huge problem, especially for athletes. You must keep your body hydrated, especially if you live not only in a hot climate, but a dry one as well. If you are a competitive athlete, a sports drink may be right for you – however, if you spend less than 90 minutes at the gym (as we discovered in another recent article on our blog), a sports drink could potentially do you more harm than good, loading your body up with unnecessary sugar. However, some studies have shown that if professional athletes drink sports drink, they can stave off fatigue 37% longer. But these sports drinks must contain carbohydrates and electrolytes in order to be useful. The study goes on to conclude that these pros run faster, have advanced motor skills, and are mentally more adept.
With all of the sports drinks on the market, how do you know what’s best to choose for your body’s hydration needs? We compiled a list of do’s and don’t’s specifically for this purpose:
It seems like a no-brainer, but soft drinks are a big no-no while exercising. They do not contain electrolytes, so they don’t give your body back what it loses while excessively sweating.
Chris Carmichael, who heads a training company for personal coaches in Colorado Springs, CO, states, “Sports drinks help you sustain energy or recover from your workout. Soft drinks are really poor at doing either of those.”
Additionally, energy drinks like Red Bull are not beneficial to athletes. They have huge amounts of caffeine, which is a diuretic and can have a laxative-like effect. This can make dehydration even worse.
If you are a professional athlete, consider using a sports drink during your workout. When exercising heavily, you lost salt and water via sweat. Sports drinks do have an advantage over water in that they have those electrolytes that are lost while you sweat it out in the gym. Potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium are electrolytes that are lost while working out, and provide energy during intense, long-last workouts – and they are typically found in sports drinks.
By drinking an electrolyte drink, you are making sure that your body doesn’t risk heat stroke or exhaustion. You’re also giving yourself an energy source – one that only professional athletes truly need. You burn off excess sugar during workouts, so while the sugar in sports drinks won’t make you necessarily gain weight, it’s not exactly helping your workout. But for people exercising in a hot environment, an electrolyte-replenishing drink can be a lifesaver.
Drinks with electrolytes in them give our bodies the fuel it needs to get our workouts and jobs done. With these drinks, you’re getting fuel in the correct quantities, so your stomach doesn’t get upset. Additionally, the carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium aid in moving fluid quickly out of the body and into the muscles, where it should be while exercising.
For those who exercise less than 90 minutes/session, drinking water is just fine. Bottled water isn’t necessary, either – tap water works just as well. Flavored waters usually come with antioxidant vitamins, which won’t improve your athletic performance, but can improve your health. Flavorings in water encourage those who do not enjoy drinking water to drink more and stay hydrated. Drinks like Leolyte, which come with more sodium to prevent dehydration, also help kids and adults drink more. Since water doesn’t have that flavor, people will stop drinking it after a while – even before their fluid needs have been satisfied.
If you choose to exercise in the morning at a high intensity level, a sports drink is better than nothing. Many gym rats have found that they do better on having something in their systems rather than nothing.
Thirst while exercising is never good – it means that you are already dehydrated. If possible, drink every 15 to 20 minutes. If you can’t drink water while working out, make sure to get plenty in your system beforehand.
Do not try something new before competing – it’s always a bad idea. Your body needs to become familiar with new liquids, so introduce a new drink gradually.
If you’re lying on the couch, watching your favorite show, don’t drink a sports drink! Those extra calories will do you in.
Fruit juices before exercising are also a bad idea. They are highly concentrated carbohydrates, which means they may give you an upset stomach or diarrhea. And you’d rather be running on the track than running to the toilet anyday.
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