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Friday, May 25, 2012

Hydration Revisited

I wrote a post way back about hydration and how important it is to hydrate when exercising in general, and especially, during hotter months.

Hydration has come back into my mind because I will be,yet again, training during the brutal summer months here in Córdoba. Where I live, the fall and winter are incredibly mild but the summer months are extremely dry and extremely hot. 

Temperatures can reach up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) during the day and 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) at 12am. So there's not even much of a respite when the sun sets!

The best way I knew how to combat dehydration when I started training was to use a Camelbak. This allowed me to bring hydration (in the form of water) wherever I was.

It worked well but I've recently come across some literature that states that water alone may not be the best way to replenish liquids we lose while exercising. 

I was attracted to these articles because after an intense run I would drink at least 2 quarts of water (or 2 liters) and not feel completely hydrated. I'd still feel thirsty and a bit sluggish.

To combat this feeling I would make sure to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables with high water contents like cucumbers, watermelon, melon, lettuce, tomatoes...things like that. Eventually my fluid levels would come back to balance and I would feel OK.

This time around I want to try something different. I sweat a lot. After an intense workout I can lose anywhere from 2-3 pounds (about 0.96 to 1.36 kilos). That's a lot in my opinion. I want to make it easier for my body to hydrate itself during and after workouts. 

This is just another way I'm trying to take better care of my body like my foot stretches or my dynamic stretching routines. I hope this extra pampering will help me be a better and more efficient runner.

Here are some tips that I hope to incorporate into my training:

If you run for less than an hour...

The best way to hydrate is with mineral water because it supplies the body with liquid, calcium, and magnesium. You can make your own mineral waters by adding 200mg of calcium, 100mg of magnesium, and 1 gram of baking soda for each quart (or liter) of water you drink. 

According to this magazine, the baking soda helps enzymes in the muscles work at their optimal level for a longer period of time. Another good way to hydrate is with diluted fruit juices (2 parts water to 1 part juice).

If you run for more than an hour...

The best way to hydrate is with an isotonic drink that has a balanced mix of carbohydrates and sodium. When you run for longer than an hour our cells not only get thirsty, but they also get hungry for carbohydrates, which is their energy.

To make this use mineral water, carbohydrates (maltodextrin), calcium, magnesium and salt. You should only use about 8 grams of maltodextrin for every 3.38 ounces (or 100 milliliters) of water. 

In addition a 1:1 ratio of water and fruit juice is another choice (50% mineral water, 25% apple juice, 25% grape or pineapple juice).

Hydration after training...

Of course you have to continue to hydrate after running because your muscles need to recuperate energy, nutrients, and minerals. 

The best beverage is beer without alcohol because it is an isotonic drink. It contains calcium (which helps carbohydrates reach the muscles), magnesium (which aids against muscle cramps), and phosphorus (which aids in the growth of bone marrow). 

The runner up is chocolate milk, which I used to drink after running before I went vegan, and finally, vegetable broth (a surprise to me).

I am very excited to try these drinks using my Camelbak! You can buy maltodextrin online and at different health food/sports stores so I will check it out this summer. 

Either way I'm sure that I will be more properly hydrated and, as a result, feel better during and after my workouts.

Like the magazine states, water (just water) should never be drunk by athletes because it doesn't contain calcium, sodium or magnesium! It's just not adequate enough. Other "no-nos" are:

iced tea
non-diluted fruit juices
oxygenated water

Many of these drinks contain way too much sugar and lack other nutrients like the ones mentioned above.

What do you drink to stay hydrated during and after workouts?

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