Long sunny days are beautiful for beachgoers but can make exercise a slog, especially when you let dehydration creep up on you. This summer, kick your hydration up a notch. Ensure that you begin training well hydrated, drink fluids while exercising to prevent dehydration, and replace fluid losses after exercise. Water or sports drinks will do the trick depending on how long and intensely you exercise. Keep a water bottle by your side for short efforts, and use sports drinks for prolonged exercise.
Choose sports drinks for exercise lasting longer than an hour. These drinks are also great for preparation and recovery on hot days. Sports beverages can help prevent heat illness in active children and adults when the temperature rises by improving voluntary fluid intake. In addition, experts recommend that you have a drinking strategy in place before you hit the field or the road. External factors like your coach’s preference for frequency of water breaks, or the availability of water on your route can affect your ability to hydrate sufficiently. For example, a hydration plan may be to drink one to two cups of fluid before exercise, a half a cup every 15 minutes of practice, and enough to quench your thirst after exercise.
Sports drinks are usually designed for both hydration and refuelling. These thirst quenchers are typically a mix of water, carbohydrates, and salt but may contain other electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and even amino acids. Sports beverages energize the working muscles with a six to eight per cent (6g per 100ml fluid) concentration of carbohydrates for optimal absorption. The salt (sodium) in sports drinks also helps promote fluid absorption and helps endurance athletes avoid low blood sodium, also known as hyponatremia. Aim for a sports beverage that contains 30-50mmol/L of sodium (or 700 to 1200mg per litre).
Commercial sports drinks are great in a pinch, but why not make your own from scratch when you can? Homemade sports drinks are more economical and allow you to control the ingredients.
For example, to make homemade beverages, dilute fruit juice to provide about 50 calories per cup, or approximately half-and-half fruit juice and water. Afterwards, add about ¼ tsp. salt per litre of liquid.
Fruit juice provides a natural pop of nutrients like fruit sugar, potassium and vitamins. In addition, diluting the fruit juice ensures a proper carbohydrate concentration so that you absorb the fluid well. Making your own sports drink is so easy — give it a try to ensure you are nicely hydrated for your next foray onto the court, field, trail, or road.
Cranberry Orange Sports Drink
Makes 3 cups
• ½ cup cranberry cocktail
• 1 cup orange juice
• 1 ½ cups water
• ¼ tsp. salt
1. Pour all of the ingredients into a pitcher.
2. Stir to dissolve salt.
3. Chill and serve.
Nutrient Profile / 250 ml Serving (1 cup) Sports Drink
Calories 56; carbs 14 g; sodium 200 mg; potassium 175 mg; vitamin C 50 mg.
Coconut Citrus Sports Drink
Makes 3 cups
• ¾ cup lemonade
• ¼ cup orange juice
• 1 cup coconut water
• ¾ cup water
• 2 tsp. lime juice
• 1/4 tsp. salt
1. Pour all the ingredients into a pitcher.
2. Stir to dissolve the salt.
3. Chill and serve.
Nutrient Profile/ 250 ml Serving (1 cup) Sports Drink
Calories 60; carbs 14 g; sodium 224 mg; potassium 250 mg; vitamin C 15 mg.
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Photography by Tyler Bowditch
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