Choosing the Best Hydration
Proper hydration is a necessary part of an active lifestyle. However, not all hydration solutions are effective, so choosing the right one is essential to achieving high performance.
Every athlete should know the importance of rehydration. Replenishing the levels of electrolytes is one of the main aspects of living an active life. It ensures you have enough energy and prevents different types of health problems.
Since there are many different drinks that promise this, finding the best way to stay hydrated can be mindboggling. An even bigger problem is that some drinks may damage your health in addition to not delivering what’s promised.
This study focuses on the difference between commercial sports drinks and ORS (Oral Rehydration Solutions), the latter of which are superior in preventing dehydration. To explain why this is the case, let’s take a look at the effect that dehydration has on your body.
How Dehydration Affects Your Performance
Dehydration can have a negative impact on both your physical and mental performance. Even 1% of dehydration can impair your ability to endure exercise. The first symptoms that you might experience are fatigue and lethargy, since your body needs to work harder after it loses water.
Also, since electrolytes regulate body temperature, low levels of them lead to heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke and muscle cramps. If you don’t rehydrate your body properly, you will notice a significant drop in performance and health.
Since you lose most of your water through sweat while exercising, you need to rehydrate yourself before, during, and after the exercise in order to maintain normal levels of electrolytes. Let’s take a look at the role of sweating, and how it affects homeostasis.
Sweat Rate Variability and Electrolyte Concentration
When you sweat, you don’t just lose water but also important electrolytes, such as sodium. To make sure you maintain optimal performance, you need to replace the lost water and electrolytes.
The degree to which you lose electrolytes varies according to many factors. Here are some of them:
- Dietary electrolyte intake (Sodium, Magnesium, etc.)
- Body Composition
- Fitness Level
The average sweat rate of an athlete is 0.5 – 2.5L/hr, but can be higher than 3L per hour. At the same time, normal Sodium concentration is 460 – 1840mg/L, but could also be higher. Depending on the factors that we listed above, your sweat rate can vary, which means that you need to find the right way of rehydrating.
Regular sweating is good, since it regulates body temperature and reduces cardiac stress. However, an inability to replace lost electrolytes can negatively affect this mechanism. Since everyone’s sweat profile is different, you should know your sweat rate, as well as your sweat’s sodium concentration. This way, you can identify the best hydration strategy that matches your characteristics.
Once you do, you need to choose the proper drinks for that, which brings us to the difference between regular sports drinks and ORS.
Sports Drinks vs. ORS
Many athletes consume sports drinks to replace the electrolytes that they need. However, most of these drinks aren’t a good solution.
The reason for this is that they’re usually high in sugar and don’t have the required electrolyte concentration. You’d need to drink a lot of them to replace the lost electrolytes, and this would lead to consuming a lot of excess sugar.
On the other hand, an ORS is a highly concentrated electrolyte formulation. It replenishes the water and electrolytes that you lost and doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners. Instead, they use stevia for flavour to ensure palatability.
They’re also hypotonic, which means that they have lower osmotic pressure then blood. This ensures that your body absorbs the fluids properly, which isn’t the case with most sports drinks.
For these reasons, using ORS’s to replenish lost electrolytes has proven to be a lot more beneficial than sports drinks. With ORS, you’ll be able to maintain optimal electrolyte levels, which will lead to superior performance.
Here at SOS Hydration, we support athletes by making sure that they avoid dehydration and stay at the top of their game. This is why we’ve created SOS, a rehydrating formula that ensures proper electrolyte replacement and hydration.
If you want to learn more about SOS drinks, visit our shop for more information.