Hydration 101 | Water Enhancers?

Hydration | Water Enhancers?

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.

Hydration | Water Enhancers?

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?

Related Posts You Might Also Like:

(Visited 2,581 times, 3 visits today)
Be Sociable, Share!
  • http://twitter.com/nhandberry Nathan Handberry

    I’ve been pretty happy with the NUUN tabs, switched to those because they were low sugar and easy to re-package.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      I’m intrigued by these too. Might pick some up and try them.

  • http://twitter.com/nhandberry Nathan Handberry

    I’ve been pretty happy with the NUUN tabs, switched to those because they were low sugar and easy to re-package.

  • James Conley

    Cold Gatorade / Powerade, etc taste great if I actually need them (out in the sun all day, etc) but at room tempeture I prefer water over them. Warm Powerade just isn’t that appealing.
    That said; I work in a cool office building and half the folks on the floor have a huge bottle of water on their desk that they’re constantly sipping from – are we over hydrated?

  • James Conley

    Cold Gatorade / Powerade, etc taste great if I actually need them (out in the sun all day, etc) but at room tempeture I prefer water over them. Warm Powerade just isn’t that appealing.
    That said; I work in a cool office building and half the folks on the floor have a huge bottle of water on their desk that they’re constantly sipping from – are we over hydrated?

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      James, I used to have a large Nalgene on my desk (back in the days I worked in an office) and did the same thing, sipped constantly. I was always going to the bathroom – ugg!

  • adam blanton

    Saw this powdered coconut water and gave it a try:
    http://bigtreefarms.com/index.php/page/content/1/19

    Not too bad, would work well on a hike but not as convienient as a tablet you can drop in your water bottle.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Oh cool – gonna check it out, thanks! I have a couple of friends that swear by coconut water added to their hydration bladder, but I haven’t tried it.

      • http://renegadepilgrim.com/ RenegadePilgrim

        Coconut water was used in the South Pacific during WWII as a natural electrolyte replacement….they’d hook up IVs directly to the coconuts…urban legend? I don’t know, but I love adding coconut powder to a small 1/2 liter saline bottle I have repurposed for carrying regular water in. It’s lightweight and sturdier than a soda bottle. The mouth is also the perfect size for my SteriPen too.

  • adam blanton

    Saw this powdered coconut water and gave it a try:
    http://bigtreefarms.com/index.php/page/content/1/19

    Not too bad, would work well on a hike but not as convienient as a tablet you can drop in your water bottle.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    I’m intrigued by these too. Might pick some up and try them.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    James, I used to have a large Nalgene on my desk (back in the days I worked in an office) and did the same thing, sipped constantly. I was always going to the bathroom – ugg!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1697458339 Ivar Posthumus

    Isostar Lemon.
    Don’t know if you have it in the US, but here in Holland you can get it in every grocery store.

    Works like a champ. Always do explosive power/cardio training (loads of energy burning without warning, so to say) and almost passed out 2 times. With this stuff; no problems at all. Keeps giving me sugar and salt.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Ivar, I have not seen this brand in the US, or heard of it before, but it’s readily available on Amazon. Isostar Lemon (this is not an affiliate link)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1697458339 Ivar Posthumus

    Isostar Lemon.
    Don’t know if you have it in the US, but here in Holland you can get it in every grocery store.

    Works like a champ. Always do explosive power/cardio training (loads of energy burning without warning, so to say) and almost passed out 2 times. With this stuff; no problems at all. Keeps giving me sugar and salt.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Oh cool – gonna check it out, thanks! I have a couple of friends that swear by coconut water added to their hydration bladder, but I haven’t tried it.

  • http://twitter.com/terrytyson Terry L. Tyson

    When I want to make a DIY electrolyte mix in my Camelbak, I use “Real Salt,” a product from Utah. It has many trace minerals in it and it’s not as “salty” tasting as regular table salt. Not sure if I’m adding enough to make a differnce, but it’s about 1/4 teaspoon per liter to which I also add a whopping 1/4 cup of lime juice. The lime juice masks the salt taste and any plastic taste originating from the water bladder. Seems to work fine, though. Google “Real Salt” for more info on this product. I use it at home as table salt now. Really like it a lot.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Terry, that’s a lot of lime juice – makes me pucker just thinking about it. Here’s the link for Real Salt: http://www.realsalt.com – I’ll read up on this. Now we have real salt and lite salt, who knew there were so many types of salt :) Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/terrytyson Terry L. Tyson

    When I want to make a DIY electrolyte mix in my Camelbak, I use “Real Salt,” a product from Utah. It has many trace minerals in it and it’s not as “salty” tasting as regular table salt. Not sure if I’m adding enough to make a differnce, but it’s about 1/4 teaspoon per liter to which I also add a whopping 1/4 cup of lime juice. The lime juice masks the salt taste and any plastic taste originating from the water bladder. Seems to work fine, though. Google “Real Salt” for more info on this product. I use it at home as table salt now. Really like it a lot.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Terry, that’s a lot of lime juice – makes me pucker just thinking about it. Here’s the link for Real Salt: http://www.realsalt.com – I’ll read up on this. Now we have real salt and lite salt, who knew there were so many types of salt :) Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradawayattewaye Brad Attaway

    I prefer Camelbak Elixir tabs to Nuun’s.

    For a homemade recipe: try agave syrup with sea salt, citrus, and cayenne pepper. It’s been a massive hit in the competitive rowing community.

    • Richard

      Agave syrup is similar to high fructose corn syrup.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradawayattewaye Brad Attaway

    I prefer Camelbak Elixir tabs to Nuun’s.

    For a homemade recipe: try agave syrup with salt, citrus, and cayenne pepper. It’s been a massive hit in the competitive rowing community.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Ivar, I have not seen this brand in the US, or heard of it before, but it’s readily available on Amazon. Isostar Lemon (this is not an affiliate link)

  • Migs001

    No need to reinvent the wheel. Here is the recipe by the World Heath Organization:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_rehydration_therapy

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Thanks. Here’s the basic WHO recipe!
      30 ml (6 level tsp) of sugar2.5 ml (1/2 level tsp) of salt, dissolved into1 litre (4.25 Cups) of clean water

  • Migs001

    No need to reinvent the wheel. Here is the recipe by the World Heath Organization:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_rehydration_therapy

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Thanks. Here’s the basic WHO recipe!
    30 ml (6 level tsp) of sugar2.5 ml (1/2 level tsp) of salt, dissolved into1 litre (4.25 Cups) of clean water

  • kory

    One additional reason to use enhancers may be the most important. If you only drink straight water you eventually end up low on electrolytes as you fail to replete your lytes. Im already seeing people in AT blogs this year with it. especially as it gets warm. Basically the high water intake increases the total blood volume and leaves your blood hypotonic. You have the same amount of sodium, calcium, magnesium as you did before but now its in a larger container. It’s like always putting one packet of sugar in your coffee but today you ordered a venti instead of a tall. You need to put in more sugar too. This leads to symptoms very similar to dehydration. Dizziness, fatigue, headaches, weakness. In bad cases we are even talking about arrhythmias, seizures, confusion, or depression. That would be hard though. I’ve even seen it misdiagnosed as Lyme disease.

  • kory

    One additional reason to use enhancers may be the most important. If you only drink straight water you eventually end up low on electrolytes as you fail to replete your lytes. Im already seeing people in AT blogs this year with it. especially as it gets warm. Basically the high water intake increases the total blood volume and leaves your blood hypotonic. You have the same amount of sodium, calcium, magnesium as you did before but now its in a larger container. It’s like always putting one packet of sugar in your coffee but today you ordered a venti instead of a tall. You need to put in more sugar too. This leads to symptoms very similar to dehydration. Dizziness, fatigue, headaches, weakness. In bad cases we are even talking about arrhythmias, seizures, confusion, or depression. That would be hard though. I’ve even seen it misdiagnosed as Lyme disease.

  • rachelcotterill

    I like my water to taste of water! :)

  • rachelcotterill

    I like my water to taste of water! :)

  • RennJenn

    I use anything like Gatorade or Powerade. I have issues with not having enough electrolytes, and get frequent muscle cramps. Additional electrolytes are supposed to help, and I don’t need my muscles cramping up when I’m out on the trail, not fun at all!

  • RennJenn

    I use anything like Gatorade or Powerade. I have issues with not having enough electrolytes, and get frequent muscle cramps. Additional electrolytes are supposed to help, and I don’t need my muscles cramping up when I’m out on the trail, not fun at all!

  • Stacy

    I’ve lived on Vitalyte for 20 years. It was developed by a guy who couldn’t stand the sweetness of Gatorade. It’s pretty mild as far as flavor, so you can drink alot without getting overwhelmed. I like all of the flavors (orange, fruit punch, grape, lemon) except “original”, which to me, simply tastes like sweat. I not only drink it on the trail, I always keep some in the fridge as well.

  • Stacy

    I’ve lived on Vitalyte for 20 years. It was developed by a guy who couldn’t stand the sweetness of Gatorade. It’s pretty mild as far as flavor, so you can drink alot without getting overwhelmed. I like all of the flavors (orange, fruit punch, grape, lemon) except “original”, which to me, simply tastes like sweat. I not only drink it on the trail, I always keep some in the fridge as well.

  • Multi-Pure Joshua

    I’ve heard you should strive to drink half your body weight on ounce per day. 180lb person = 90oz/day

    Also you should consider how much water you drink when eating. If you don’t add enough water your body will rob itself of water to digest the food.

  • Multi-Pure Joshua

    I’ve heard you should strive to drink half your body weight on ounce per day. 180lb person = 90oz/day

    Also you should consider how much water you drink when eating. If you don’t add enough water your body will rob itself of water to digest the food.

  • http://www.HikeLighter.Com/ John Abela

    Hey Brian,

    I have been using “Emergen-C Joint Health” for well over 2,000 miles now.

    One packet first thing in the morning, and another at dinner break (an hour or so before the end of day hiking) and sometimes a third one during mid-day, but only rarely.

    I also carry with me three packets of “Medique Electrolyte tablets” for if I find that I have pushed myself to hard and need a boost to correct an imbalance. (only used one pack in three years, but it saved me big time. had a heat wave come through, went from 65f to 113f in a matter of a few hours, that caught myself and three other hikers on a granite rock face and just nailed us all really hard)

    http://www.emergenc.com/index.php/products/specialty/joint-health

    and
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0079V687C/

    http://www.minimus.biz/Medique-Medi-Lyte-Electrolyte-Heat-Relief-Tablets-P01-0227401-1000.aspx

  • http://www.hikelighter.com/ John Abela

    Hey Brian,

    I have been using “Emergen-C Joint Health” for well over 2,000 miles now.

    One packet first thing in the morning, and another at dinner break (an hour or so before the end of day hiking) and sometimes a third one during mid-day, but only rarely.

    I also carry with me three packets of “Medique Electrolyte tablets” for if I find that I have pushed myself to hard and need a boost to correct an imbalance. (only used one pack in three years, but it saved me big time. had a heat wave come through, went from 65f to 113f in a matter of a few hours, that caught myself and three other hikers on a granite rock face and just nailed us all really hard)

    http://www.emergenc.com/index.php/products/specialty/joint-health

    and
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0079V687C/

    http://www.minimus.biz/Medique-Medi-Lyte-Electrolyte-Heat-Relief-Tablets-P01-0227401-1000.aspx

  • http://www.outsideways.com/ Damien @ Outsideways

    Here is a tip: Another way to help stay hydrated is to make sure you are eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables each day. Those contain lots of water, don’t taste as bland, and makes it so that you don’t need to always be remembering to drink enough fluids.

  • http://www.adventureinprogress.com/ Damien @ ADVENTUREinPROGRESS

    Here is a tip: Another way to help stay hydrated is to make sure you are eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables each day. Those contain lots of water, don’t taste as bland, and makes it so that you don’t need to always be remembering to drink enough fluids.

  • cub campers

    Very interesting page! Thanks a lot for this page. Sharing this will really help a lot.
    http://www.mycampertrailer.com.au/

  • http://twitter.com/vortex33 Vortex33

    I get migraines when I am not hydrated so I keep a Nalgene beside me at all times so I can be sure to drink enough water. But when I need a boost, I’m partial to Nuun grape tablets. They used to have a cola flavor that was awesome and very settling for a wobbly stomach but I can no longer find it. Most other electrolyte drinks I’ve tried leave a bad aftertaste in my mouth so I just stick with tried and true for backpacking. Nothing so bad as having to carry food items that you dislike!

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Do you physically notice the “boost” that Nuun tablets give you compared to just water? What are the physical benefits? More energy, faster recovery, clarify, focus – just curious..?

      • http://twitter.com/vortex33 Vortex33

        I feel refreshed and recovered. I don’t think it’s an energy drink, at least I get no boost of energy from it, I just don’t drag around. It’s not too sweet, it’s fizzy and it’s only 8 calories per tablet which makes it easier for me to drink (I’m not a fan of drinking empty calories). My husband has Type 1 diabetes so it’s something he can drink without stressing over carbs.

  • http://twitter.com/vortex33 Vortex33

    I get migraines when I am not hydrated so I keep a Nalgene beside me at all times so I can be sure to drink enough water. But when I need a boost, I’m partial to Nuun grape tablets. They used to have a cola flavor that was awesome and very settling for a wobbly stomach but I can no longer find it. Most other electrolyte drinks I’ve tried leave a bad aftertaste in my mouth so I just stick with tried and true for backpacking. Nothing so bad as having to carry food items that you dislike!

  • Patrick Casebere
  • Patrick Casebere
  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Do you physically notice the “boost” that Nuun tablets give you compared to just water? What are the physical benefits? More energy, faster recovery, clarify, focus – just curious..?

  • http://twitter.com/vortex33 Vortex33

    I feel refreshed and recovered. I don’t think it’s an energy drink, at least I get no boost of energy from it, I just don’t drag around. It’s not too sweet, it’s fizzy and it’s only 8 calories per tablet which makes it easier for me to drink (I’m not a fan of drinking empty calories). My husband has Type 1 diabetes so it’s something he can drink without stressing over carbs.

  • RenegadePilgrim

    Coconut water was used in the South Pacific during WWII as a natural electrolyte replacement….they’d hook up IVs directly to the coconuts…urban legend? I don’t know, but I love adding coconut powder to a small 1/2 liter saline bottle I have repurposed for carrying regular water in. It’s lightweight and sturdier than a soda bottle. The mouth is also the perfect size for my SteriPen too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alistair.bradbury Alistair Bradbury

    I love walking and hiking in the Lake District National Park, England.The best way I have found to stay hydrated and not drinking bland water, although your comments about cold spring water are spot on.
    My tip for everyone is to buy natural drinks in the foil type containers which when drunk can be rolled up and put in your backpack until you find a bin. On hot days I tend to freeze my drinks the night before my walk and take them out of the freezer as I leave in the morning. This way I have nice cool drinks for most of the day and refreshing drinks too if its pure orange etc.
    Anyone can access my FREE Lakeland walks at Lake District Walks and there are loads of great photographs and videos of the stunning scenerey for everyone to enjoy.

  • Stephen

    I am thru-hiking the AT right now and know as well as anybody how bland and boring water can get. The hassle free thru hiker resupply is pretty standard. Gatorade powder spilt between you and someone else. It’s a lot to carry but worth it’s weight now that the heat is on. For
    Simple flavoring the crystal light packets are great.

  • Stephen

    I am thru-hiking the AT right now and know as well as anybody how bland and boring water can get. The hassle free thru hiker resupply is pretty standard. Gatorade powder spilt between you and someone else. It’s a lot to carry but worth it’s weight now that the heat is on. For
    Simple flavoring the crystal light packets are great.

  • MiO Flavors

    I think water enhancers but things like this: http://confirmedbest.com/health-and-beauty/best-mio-flavor/

    are rather worthless – whats everyones opinion on mio?

  • bigman

    Have you tried a product from a new company in Hartford CT called ThinkitDrinkit. They have a all natural, no sugar no artificial anything real fruit and veggie water enhancer that is fab.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      I have not. I just checked out their website only to find it’s a whole bunch of “coming soon!” – do you work for the company or represent them in some way?

  • Health-Forever

    I am very excited to find a beautiful blog through internet after huge searches. It clearly describes about how water is useful for blood enhancer.