Ever get to the afternoon after lunch and wonder how you’re going to make it to the end of the day? If the answer is yes, or even if you simply feel in need of a little pick me up around that time, then don’t always do what the masses do i.e. dart for a cup of coffee. Although coffee and caffeine has its place, far too many of us overlook the importance of hydration… and nothing is more efficient at hydrating you than an isotonic drink (yep, even better than water). Of course there is a time and place for just good ol’ fashion water, but this depends on numerous factors such as ambient temperature, humidity, your body’s osmotic balance and your desire to drink.
How summer effects hydration & energy
As the summer months approach you will inevitably adapt to accommodate the heat (fingers crossed for at least SOME heat), as the ambient temperature rises either indoors or out our bodies thermoregulate i.e. adapt relative to temperature. One of the main coping mechanisms for heat is sweating, clearly it doesn’t take some in depth explanation as to how this implicates your hydration, quite simply if you sweat more you lose more fluid. This fluid needs to be replaced at a greater rate to compensate for the larger net loss, so this is where drinking approximately 35ml per kg bodyweight (if you’re younger than 60 years) or 30ml per kg bodyweight (if 60 years of age or above) is so important.
What to drink?
Well, the fact that the title of this article mentions ‘Isotonic drinks’ gives it away a little, but I must be clear when saying DO NOT OVERLOOK WATER. Water is the key to life, isotonic drinks offer a variation to water which accommodates the implications of the summer months. When we sweat isotonic drinks lead the way, this is because we don’t just lose fluid when we sweat, we excrete electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride) too. Try putting a black t-shirt on and exercising in the heat, remove the t-shirt after sweating during exercise and leave to dry, then come back and see if there is any white residue around the arm pit or middle back area. If you predominantly sweat sodium you will notice white patches on the t-shirt, this is a good indication that you need to replenish the electrolyte lost via an isotonic drink.
Conversely if the temperature is cooler and you notice you’re not sweating so much during exercise then water is your best option. This is because electrolyte balance will remain relatively normal compared to hot temperatures. Go to the extreme and consume copious amounts of water in a short space of time and (in rare cases) you run the risk of a condition known as Hyponatraemia whereby you have insufficient sodium in your blood… this is also known as water intoxication. Don’t worry too much though as this is extremely rare, you would have to drink gallons of water in a short space of time, so don’t let this put you off hydrating!
How inadequate hydration leads to fatigue
You’ve heard it a million times, ‘you must drink more or you’ll become dehydrated’. The fact is that most of us are chronically dehydrated and we don’t even realise it, which can play havoc on our health, wellbeing and overall productivity. Some of the main ways that poor hydration can leave you feeling fatigued, and how the consumption of an isotonic drink can help stave off that afternoon slump is to 1.) Rehydrate you, 2.) Deliver some carbs, and 3.) Regulate blood pressure. The first two are somewhat self-explanatory, but 1.) and 2.) go hand in hand in the sense that rehydration will help bring your blood pressure back to normal. Bringing your blood pressure back up to normal means your blood will pump more efficiently, which means your major organs will receive more blood and oxygen, which leads to better energy metabolism and focus.