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Water vs Sports Drinks, the Great Hydration Debate.

You’ve probably heard the statement, “our bodies are mostly water”. It’s true. Water can make up 45% to 75% of the total body weight. While the top end of that scale applies mostly to babies (infants have a high percentage of water – up to 75%!) but adult women and men average about 55% to 60% respectively. (It just feels like more when there’s a line for the bathroom.)

But no matter what, it’s important to stay well hydrated during times of exertion. Even working outside in your backyard, you’re going to sweat – and maybe not realize how dehydrated you are. What should you reach for – a soft drink? Energy drink? Sports drink? Good old water?

Do electrolytes matter?

Yes, there are some commercial sports drinks and soft drinks that can replenish electrolytes – in this case, minerals, that conduct electricity (read: impulses) when dissolved in the “water” (bloodstream and other fluids) of our bodies. Be aware that many of these drinks have a fairly high percentage of sugar, too. The best bet is to buy the powdered mix and make them up at home, rather than spending the cash on pre-mixed bottles that usually taste too sweet to begin with. But – and this is crucial – follow that drink mix electrolyte recharge with more water. After all, those electrolytes – lost from the body when we sweat - still need a home base to operate from.

Avoid the “extremes” of sports drinks.

It’s best to avoid caffeinated “intense” or “extreme” sports drinks altogether, though. The caffeine will probably just rev you up unnecessarily, and again, these drinks generally come with a high price of admission in the form of sugar and calories.

Water, water, everywhere – get some drops to drink!

In other words, water still rules. It’s the cheapest, most natural “re-hydrator” you’re going to find. If you’ve heard (and almost everyone has) the rule about “eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day”, keep that amount in mind and add some. Don’t let yourself get thirsty. Keep a water bottle or canteen with you when you’re working or playing outdoors, and you’ll avoid the summer wilt that can a bit of the fun out of the season.

Published September 10, 2010
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