We all know that we need to stay hydrated during a workout – but is it more beneficial to drink water while you are exercising – or chug a sports drink such as Powerade, Gatorade, Lucozade or any of the other popular brands?
There is a lot of biology behind how both of these drinks affect the body. One isn’t better than the other in every situation – it simply depends on what your needs are and the intensity of your workout. One thing that is important – keeping hydrated during a workout is absolutely essential.
Water is Pure and Healthy
One of the arguments for water is that it is a clean, healthy and totally additive-free way to refresh your body before or after a workout. Water contains nothing artificial and nothing added and it is easily absorbed by the body. You can’t go too wrong when hydrating with water, especially for a low to medium intensity workout.
Long and Strenuous Training? Try Sports Drinks
If you plan to go for a very strenuous workout for over an hour at a medium to high intensity, you should look for a drink that will provide you with not just H2O but with sodium and carbohydrate as well. This is because you will be losing a lot of sodium within your sweat. Also, sports drinks are more appealing to the palate, so you will end up drinking more and will be more likely to keep yourself hydrated.
Water Actually Reduces Fluid
When you drink a lot of water you actually send a signal to your kidneys that there is excess fluid in your blood, which will block out the anti-diuretic hormone that helps you to hold onto water. This causes you to urinate more, which can actually cause you to lose the excess of water that you have been trying to drink. The water will pass through the body too quickly and will not provide you with the necessary sugar that is needed to spark the insulin response so that you can ignite the recovery process.
What About Your Sweat Loss?
When it comes to rehydrating and replenishing your electrolytes, every athlete is different. Some sweat a lot of salt and others sweat very little. The most efficient way to rehydrate your body after a workout is to put back exactly the same amount of fluid that you have lost when you are exercising. This will help you to find out a balance between not drinking too much and becoming dehydrated and not drinking enough. There are actually sweat loss calculators available that you can use that will help you to figure out your ideal amount of water to drink to cancel out your sweat loss.
So the question of sports drinks vs water really depends on the type of workout you are completing and whether or not you need to replenish with sodium and carbohydrates. Take all factors into account, so that you can stay healthy and hydrated during your workout.