One of the biggest problems I have with staying hydrated is that water on it’s own tastes bland. There’s nothing better than when I’m on the trail and I have the luxury of drinking from an ice cold mountain stream. Even after being filtered, the crisp, cold taste of the naturally flowing water is hard to beat and it is always easy to gulp down.
Drink, Drink, Drink!
We all know that proper hydration is important for optimal athletic performance, but what about every day life, fitness, and even outdoor activities? Whether you are running a triathlon or going on a day hike, keeping your body properly hydrated is essential to performance and concentration.
It may seem kind of stupid to say this, but the most common cause of dehydration is simply not drinking enough fluid regularly and not enough during and after strenuous activity. One of the ironies of hydration is that by the time you start to feel thirsty you’re usually already dehydrated. I learned the hard way that prolonged activity at altitude can increase fluid loss thereby requiring much more fluid and on a regular basis.
The first thing everyone says is, “Check your pee!” As a general rule, a large amount of light colored, diluted urine probably means you are hydrated; dark colored, concentrated urine probably means you are dehydrated. However, this is only a very general rule at best. Just because your urine is clear and you get rid of a lot of it doesn’t necessarily mean you are optimally hydrated.
Lost Electrolytes and Minerals
On top of needing to drink the correct amount of fluid to stay properly hydrated, there is the underlying problem that your body is also loosing essential electrolytes and minerals (mostly sodium and potassium) as you sweat and become dehydrated.
Electrolyte is a medical term for salts, specifically ions that are electrically-charged. Your body fluids (blood, plasma, and the fluid between cells) all have a high concentration of sodium chloride – salt. Your kidneys are the organs that work hard to keep the electrolyte balances in your blood constant despite changes in your body. Lost electrolytes must be replaced in order to maintain a proper and healthy balance.
At home, before, during, and after a workout I struggle to drink enough water to stay properly hydrated because I don’t enjoy it. Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are specially designed to help athletes rehydrate when their fluids are depleted after training or competition, but they taste too sugary for me. There are also a large selection of “water enhancers” that come in powder or tablet form and make the water taste better, they also help to replace and balance lost electrolytes. I haven’t tried any of these yet, but I am seriously considering it.
Home-Brew Electrolyte Drink
I recently came across this home-brew electrolyte drink recipe and thought I’d make some up this week to try. It doesn’t sound very tasty, but I’ve heard that it works.
- 1 liter of water
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon of “lite” salt
- A few squeezes from a lemon or and orange
Do you use any types of water enhancers of hydration supplements in your water, if so what type and how well do they seem to work for you?
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