Hydration is one of the many important things to attend to with exercise. But how much is the right amount? How often? Should it have electrolytes? Where does alkaline water fit in? Where do we start? Many have heard things like “drink 8 glasses of water a day”. This is a good general idea, but there is little research to support this as an actual “rule”.
Plenty of factors affect our hydration levels, including the foods we eat. As a general part of a healthy diet, we are often encouraged to eat our veggies and fruits. These health-food staples are great sources of vitamins, minerals, and surprisingly- water! In many cases, veggies contain both fluids and vitamins, with low amounts of sugars. Fruits are great too, but they do have higher sugar levels, so should be taken with measure. Soups are good sources of fluids too.
Tea, coffee, juices and even soda count to your hydration but all have their cautions. Caffeine has been shown to elevate resting heart rate and blood pressure. Juices and sodas are often very high in sugars and calories. Sodas alone are often high in caffeine, sugar, and sodium – a trifecta for potential health issues. All these sources of should be used carefully, and note that juices and sodas will often leave you feeling thirstier. Sports drinks are a lot like sodas, and unless you’re exercising at a high intensity over extended periods (greater than 1-hr at a time), they are probably just adding calories without much true benefit to you.
Which brings us back to water. Your body is about 60% water and it’s easier on your body to process something familiar without having to clean it up for you. Recommended amounts suggest that between 21-32 oz of water perhour of exercise is a good amount to keep you hydrated (depending on how much you sweat). During a regular day, keep in mind if you feel thirsty, have a drink. Most people prefer cold water. Some people like the taste of alkaline water and others don’t. It makes no difference. If you’re really worried about electrolytes, don’t be – focus on a balanced diet and you’ll probably get more than enough electrolytes .
Drink up! And Cheers!