Hydration is essential for an active lifestyle. Why is that? Because up to 70% of our body weight is made up of water and it is essential to maintaining normal physical and cognitive functions. When we are hydrated we feel at our best: our muscles, heart and the brain work more efficiently. Even mild dehydration can have negative effects on wellbeing.
So, what happens during exercise? Our muscles are working, the heart is pumping, our metabolism is producing energy. Sound familiar? As a result, our body temperature rises. We sweat to cool ourselves down which of course relies on a good supply of fluid – but we don’t just sweat water, we lose electrolytes (minerals) too. Dehydration is not just about volume of water we lose but also the imbalance of these electrolytes.
Dr Caroline Saunders, Principal Nutrition Scientist, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, explains: “If we look at what we lose when we’re active - more specifically, what we lose during a thirty-minute workout - we are likely to sweat out up to half a litre of fluid. As a result, we lose water and key electrolytes (minerals) in various amounts and become dehydrated. It’s essential, therefore, that we rehydrate and replenish these electrolytes as we exercise.
Saunders explains: “Electrolytes are minerals and we get them from our diet: foods we eat and fluids we drink. They have two key functions in our bodies – cell communication and hydration.
“They help our cells communicate by being active messengers. For example, when you move, you need to concentrate on the task ahead, your brain cells send electrical impulses – electrolytes facilitate that process. Similarly, when you move, your muscles contract to facilitate this movement – muscle cells communicate by using electrolytes to make sure that movement happens efficiently.
“Their second purpose is to monitor hydration. Electrolytes are present in all our body cells (from the skin cells to brain and muscle cells) and are able to move from one cell to another, taking water alongside them, which keeps the body hydrated. Sodium - in particular - ensures your muscles can absorb more fluid than just water alone.
“If hydration is limited, the body comes under a lot of strain and basic processes in the muscle, brain and cardiovascular system are impaired,” explains Saunders. “For example, the heart rate increases, the muscles start to fatigue, it’s harder to focus and concentrate and ultimately the exercise becomes harder and less enjoyable.”
This understanding played an integral part of the formulation and development process behind the creation of Lucozade Sport’s new Fitwater: “We used all this information and research when formulating a drink which provides you with water and four key electrolytes to keep you replenished during and after exercise,” says Saunders.
- Sodium – which is found in table salt and every day foods and drinks
- Chloride – another mineral found in table salt but also vegetables
- Magnesium - a mineral found in leafy greens and nuts
- Calcium - a better-known mineral for bone health found in dairy products
“Three of these electrolytes are present in Lucozade Sport Fitwater in significant amounts required in your daily diet (15% of what you need in one day). There is no daily recommended intake level for sodium therefore we set the levels required to support what you lose during exercise.”
So, as part of an active healthy and balanced lifestyle, start exercise fully hydrated – it’ll enable better performance and more enjoyment! Saunders advises: “Having a glass or two of water or your favourite healthy drink is all that it takes. Continue to hydrate by taking in small amounts (couple of sips every 10 minutes or so) during your workout. Don’t forget if you are exercising in hotter conditions or tend to sweat a lot you will need to replenish yourself more. If you don’t enjoy drinking plain water, try to hydrate and replenish yourself by selecting electrolyte water.”
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