Summertime is upon us. With soaring temperatures, summer is the prime time for dehydration and requires us to pay special attention to keep ourselves hydrated. More rigorous the exercise, the more your body needs to sweat, so dehydration can have a greater impact.

If you notice during the workout – a decrease in performance, a shift in mood or a headache, you may need to take a break and hydrate yourself to reach your workout goals. Let’s explain.

Every individual’s hydration needs are different, hence it is important to match the beverage with the workout goal. The actual amount of liquid that an individual requires, depends on his/her age, gender, physical activity, physiological condition or illness, the temperature and humidity of the physical environment. On average, sweat loss is around 500–1500 ml during an hour of vigorous exercise and fluid intake can fall within this range depending on the conditions, type and duration of the exercise.

For individuals with a sedentary lifestyle, thirst is what maintains fluid balance but for people with an active lifestyle, thirst is less precise. The biggest challenge during a workout is that by the time one is aware of thirst, they are already dehydrated which in turn decreases the capacity to exercise considerably. Proper hydration is essential to maintain optimal health and water can be an effective fluid replacement beverage. But for fitness enthusiasts, water can replace only a fraction of fluid and salt loss as it turns off the thirst too soon, therefore, an isotonic sports beverage can be an optimal option.

Let’s find out how a sports drink – a beverage containing carbohydrates, electrolytes and minerals can enable you to push your game and help you go faster and longer.

Getting Optimally Hydrated
Small loss of water and salts from the body has little or no effect on the performance of fitness enthusiasts but severe dehydration can have a direct impact on their performance. Coaches and athletes are well advised to have a fluid plan that is designed to suit the needs of their sport. As a thumb rule, that is about 2% of the body mass or one kilo for a person who weighs 50 kilos.

For exercises with heavy sweating sessions lasting longer than 30 minutes, it could be a good idea to hydrate about 15 minutes before beginning.

Fuel Endurance
For long duration sports, carbohydrates are also very important for maintaining muscle and brain fuel supplies, as well as contribute to the flavour of sports drinks. A correctly formulated sports drink plays a great role in helping one maintain their endurance during exercise and not feel exhausted after exercise. Research shows that the body can only oxidize on an average 60–90 g of ingested carbohydrates per hour, so it makes little sense to have more. Hence, look for sports drinks containing 4-8 g of carbohydrates per 100 ml serving.

Replenish Electrolytes

During a workout, the body loses fluids and electrolytes in large quantities. From a sports perspective, for a high-performance in short burst of intense movement or endurance sessions – sports drinks are the most beneficial.

Sports drinks give the functional advantages of boosting energy, fueling the workout and going beyond plain hydration. A key ingredient of sports drinks is sodium that encourages fluid retention, promotes absorption and drives osmotic thirst mechanism. In addition, the sodium also helps the body retain more of the fluid that is
consumed, allowing for better hydration.

Flavour Stimulates Drinking
Flavour is one of the most important aspects of sports drink that can stimulate drinking during or after exercise. Studies have shown that athletes replace their fluid losses best while drinking a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution during exercise. To help stimulate drinking behaviour, the flavour has to be appealing. Try multiple flavours, pick your favourite and enjoy.

Right Temperature
For maximum absorption from the stomach, the optimal temperature of the fluid should be around 15 degrees centigrade. However, some recent evidence suggests that consuming cooler drinks (4-10 degree centigrade) can help reduce body temperature.

Proper hydration is the key to boost endurance and all-around performance in any exercise. So next time, before you go for that high-intensity workout or head out to play your favourite sport, do remember to carry a bottle of sports drinks to get the most of your workout session.