If you're looking to make some real change in your fitness regime, it's important of course to make soem changes in the kitchen. Any trainer will tell you that a balanced diet is essential to improving your fitness. Cutting back on the sugars and saturated fats are a big step, but there is one thing that is often overlooked by people, and that is of course not what you eat, but what you drink. It's important to drink the right fluids in order to maintain a positive effect on your body and exercise.
Pour some water on me
Did you know that water makes up 60% of the body, and up to a litre of water can be lost simply thorugh sweating in a workout session. This would of course cause severe dehydration if not dealt with. Immediate performace woudl be affected, but more importantly, your long-term health. Water helps to fuel your muscles, so the more water you drink, the more of an energy boost you'll gain. A lack of water will cause a build up of lactic acid, which then causes cramps. Lack of water also raises a body's temperature, causing your heart to work at a faster rate.
While we are on the subject of water, it's also important to realise that the "2 litres of water a day" rule is actually a myth. You do not need to drink that much. In fact, over drinking water or any fluid could cause Exercise Associated Hyponatremia, which could be deadly.
"As long as we drink when we feel thirsty, we really won't dehydrate" - Tamara Hew-Butler DPM, PHD, Exercise Physiologist at Oakland University [Source]
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Sports drinks, they safe?
Absolutely, there is nothing wrong with drinking sports drinks, but you need to make sure that you are drinking the right thing. There are three kinds of sports drinks: Hypotonic, isotonic and hypertonic.
- 20g - 40g of sugar per litre
- Low in carbohydrates and designed to replace the fluids you lose during exercise.
- Great for dancers and gymnasts
- Perfect examples are the likes of Lucozade Sport Lite, and water will also have the same effect (but there's also no sugar in water which is good).
- 40g - 80g of sugar per litre
- Moderate level of carbohydrates. As well as replacing fluids lost, they work great to topping up your body's carbohydrate stores, which will get low if you work out for more than an hour.
- Great for players of team sports, middle to long distance running and also for gym-goers.
- Perfect examples are Powerade or Lucozade Sport
- 80g - 100g sugar per litre
- High levels of carbohydrates. Your body absorbs it more slowly than water but it will give you that extra boost due to the sugar content.
- These are great for people participating in large workouts like long distance running.
- Perfect examples are fruit juice or Lucozade Energy
A word on protein shakes
Any regular to the gym will see that a lot of people carry around the distinctive bottles used for protein shakes. Knowing that protein helps build muscle, you think it's probably to drink the same and then you too will look like The Rock. The truth is you might not want to do that. Excessive protein can cause weight gain, and if you are doing the wrong kinds of exercise or not exercising the right amount, you are going to end up in worse shape. Your exercise needs to include a lot of heavy lifting, and you need to be working 3 or more times a week for it to have any positive impact. So, if you're a cardio nut or just a casual gym goer, we strongly recommend you stay away from the powdered drinks.
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