Don't sweat it
Updated: Jan 5, 2022
Water is the clear winner when it comes to hydration and an absolute when it comes to peak performance. Water is a transporter of nutrients, a joint lubricator, and importantly a regulator of body temperature.
If you don’t replenish fluids, especially when sweating through more intense exercise or activity, it becomes harder for your heart to circulate blood. A decrease in blood and plasma volume occurs leading to a range of problems including fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, heat exhaustion even heat stroke. You will also lose your body’s electrolytes including sodium and potassium.
Sodium is found in many foods, so you normally get enough but when you lose a lot of water through sweat you lose significantly more. If you don’t replace the sodium you can suffer from muscle cramps, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, even an inability to concentrate. Sodium helps muscles contract and relax, transmit nerve impulses and maintain fluid balance in your cells.
Potassium is essential in maintaining a proper fluid balance. It maintains the body’s pH balance and blood pressure. Potassium stops blood clotting, transports nutrients to the cells, supports heart and bone health as well as protects the stomach lining from damage caused by stomach acids.
For athletes, potassium helps carbohydrate storage to fuel muscles and the degree and frequency of muscle contraction. If you don’t get enough, the flow of potassium through the body is blocked compromising your nervous and muscular systems.
These major electrolytes, found in minerals, contain an electric charge carried in your urine, blood, and bodily fluids. They are used by your body’s cells transporting electrical impulses so your cells can communicate with each other. That’s what gives you the ability to taste, see, smell, touch, and hear.
How to replace lost fluids
Food and beverages provide hydration, but it is water that is vital to meet your daily requirements. Water is the go-to that makes things happen:
Hydrate your lungs to oxygenate and expel carbon dioxide
Transport nutrients around your body
Lubricate your joints
Regulate your body temperature
We are lucky in Australia to have clean water on tap. However, there are other bottled water options available to maximise your hydration plan and overall health. Consider the following when choosing the right bottled water for you:
Are you concerned with chlorine and fluoride in your water?
Do you want natural or artificial additives to improve the functionality of the water?
Are you worried about any trace metals or other ‘nasties’ in the water?
What taste and texture are you after to help you easily obtain your water intake requirements?
Does the water support not only your performance expectations but your overall health goals?
Aside from tap water from your local reservoir and treatment plants, these are typically the bottled water types you can choose:
Spring Water – usually from springs or underground aquifers
Mineral Water – mostly sourced from a mineral spring
Carbonated water – infused with carbon dioxide under gas
Still Water – filtered and safely bottled
Functional or value-added water – enhanced with minerals, vitamins, flavours, etc
Then there is Alkaline Water.
Alkaline water provides the most effective and efficient hydration. By raising the water’s pH level, the water molecular cluster breaks down to a smaller size, in fact 3x smaller than tap water, so it easily permeates the cell wall more efficiently and effectively. A better-hydrated cell allows for faster hydration and contraction speed as well as the removal of metabolic waste such as lactic acid.
5 checks to use when choosing alkaline water:
Start with clean water that has removed additives like chlorine, fluoride and other ‘nasties’
Make sure the pH level is raised naturally so it maintains a high stable pH 9+ after the bottle is opened and doesn’t have a metallic aftertaste
Ensure there are active marine minerals containing natural electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphate to hydrate at the cellular level for faster and more efficient hydration.
Taste it - if doesn’t taste great or has an uncomfortable texture, like 'chalkiness', it can be difficult to meet your hydration requirements.
Bottle shape and size - don't forget you will need to drink the water pre, during and post-exercise, so make sure the bottle is sturdy and easy to use.
If you would like to find out more about the benefits of alkaline water for high-performance athletes click on the scientific studies below:
‘The results of the present study indicate that drinking alkalized water improves hydration status, acid-base balance, and high-intensity anaerobic exercise performance. It appears that both greater muscle buffering capacity and enhanced removal of protons, resulting in increased glycolytic ATP production, may be responsible for these effects. Considering the energy demands and the intense sweat rate of combat sport athletes, the authors recommend the daily intake of 3–4 L of highly alkaline mineralized water to improve hydration and anaerobic performance during training and competition.’
‘In conclusion, the athletes hydrated with alkaline, low mineralized water demonstrated favourable changes in hydration status in response to high-intensity interval exercise with a significant decrease of specific urine gravity, increased urine pH and more efficient utilization of lactate after supramaximal exercise.’
‘Conclusion: Deep-ocean mineral water shows promise as an optimal rehydrating source over spring water and/or sports drink.’
If you want no more about alkaline diets click here