Last blog I discussed the importance of preparation for energy and success during tournaments. I shared some ideas for a travel cooler to ensure you recover properly and never run out of fuel when it matters. In this post I want to cover the importance of hydration, how to avoid dehydration, what to drink, what not to drink, and touch briefly on sports drinks.
Importance of hydration:
Your body depends on water for survival. Did you know that water makes up more than half of your body weight? Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to function correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints. Water is essential for good health and performance.
Even when you sleep you lose water, so you can only imagine how much you lose when you workout or play hockey. When you exercise you need more water – you should drink it before, during and after activity.
With this being said it is important to be able to recognize when you’re dehydrated:
Signs of dehydration could include:
- a headache
- little or no urination or urine that is yellow or amber in colour
- dry mouth
If you are not sufficiently hydrated you can suffer from cramps, low energy, loss of strength, decreased focus and potential injuries.
How to stay hydrated:
First and foremost, drink plenty of quality water – at least eight 8oz glasses a day and more when you are exercising.
I also suggest that you drink a glass first thing in the morning, followed by a great breakfast. Drinking water with meals is not ideal because it can affect proper digestion. Cold water is also something that inhibits optimal digestion since it can cause the stomach to constrict. You are best to sip on room temperature water throughout the day when you are not eating.
Another important thing to remember is that a proper diet high in fresh vegetables and some fruit will help you stay hydrated, whereas a diet high in processed foods can actually dehydrate you due to many of its additives and high sodium content.
What is best to drink?
Good quality spring water is your best choice to stay hydrated. I prefer a spring water that contains minerals that will aid in hydration and has a PH level between 7.4 and 8.4 so it is more alkaline. I have all my athletes at the GRHPC drink quality spring water to hydrate before, during and after their training. Goccia is the water I prefer because it contains minerals that help me rehydrate (i.e., sodium, potassium, magnesium) and it has a PH level of 8.4.
My second choice is 100% natural coconut water – nature’s Gatorade. It contains electrolytes, particularly potassium and sodium, which help to rehydrate the body after prolonged strenuous exercise or exertion. I use coconut water with equal parts water in my post-workout recovery shake.
What about juice?
To be honest I’m not a fan of drinking concentrated fruit juice or even 100% pure juice that has had the pulp removed. The processing of juice depletes the vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fibre. I prefer to eat the fruit – that helps me stay hydrated and I get the benefit of all its nutrients and fibre.
I do blend fruits in shakes though. My favourite, particularly if I’m on the run, is a blend of berries, half a banana, baby spinach or kale, water, a couple of dates and a tablespoon of raw cacao or a scoop of sprouted brown rice chocolate protein. This nutrition packed drink takes just a couple of minutes to prepare in a high-speed blender. I also like to drink freshly juiced vegetables, especially greens, but I do confess that I usually get mine from my friends at Nature’s Emporium. They have a fabulous juice bar with lots of healthy juice options to choose from.
Blending or juicing fresh vegetables and fruit is a great way to enjoy the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fibre they have to offer without having to sit down and eat large quantities of them.
Pop and Colas:
I’m definitely not a fan because they have very little nutritional value and contain refined sugars or artificial sweeteners, colours and chemicals.
I recognize that the multitude of sports drinks out there provide amino acids, electrolytes and minerals to aid in performance and recovery. However, they also contain additives including refined sugars (e.g., glucose-fructose, sucrose syrup, corn syrup,) or artificial sweeteners (e.g., aspartame, Splenda), artificial colours and chemicals (e.g., glycerol ester of rosin, brominated vegetable oil). Personally I don’t drink Gatorade, Powerade or anything of that nature because of the additives they contain.
For young athletes, I believe quality spring water is their best option to drink during exercise.
When it comes to hydration, a good quality spring water is your best option. If athletes are drinking enough water and consuming a healthy diet with enough electrolytes they should be well hydrated and energized.