High Quality H20

When talking diets and nutrition - fats, protein and carbohydrates play an important role, but lets not forget the good old H20. 

Water is one of the most important factors for health and performance. It’s unbelievable to think you can survive 40 days without food and a mere 3 days without water. Although it’s unlikely that will happen anytime soon, it is also key for increasing performance. Our bodies are 70% water and being even 2% dehydrated has been shown to decrease performance by 10%. So when you’re getting hot and sweaty in the gym, don’t forget to reach for that water bottle. 

Dehydration increases blood viscosity, which reduces nutrient and oxygen flow to the brain and tissues. The heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body which increases blood pressure, lethargy and decreases cognitive function. The old recommendations to stay hydrated where to drink 1 litre of water per kg of weight lost. However, recent studies suggest to drink when thirsty to avoid Hyponatremia. Although this is very rare, extremely excessive water intake can disrupt the normal balance of electrolytes (sodium being the main one) in the cells. 

There is an exception to these rules. Marathon runners or those whose sport needs little cognitive function, show better levels of performance being 4% dehydrated. Hydration is controlled by the central nervous system and  runners use caffeine of 300mg +, generally found in pre-workouts to block the receptors (you’re average Starbucks coffee having 80mg). Athletes will do this to run lighter, which slightly increases power to weight ratio. 

So, where do sports drinks come in to this? Sports drinks are specifically designed for athletes. They are very high in glucose which is the body's main fuel source, used by both the brain and tissues. They also have additional electrolytes to increase hydration, for example, if your sweat becomes salty it is important to replace electrolytes lost. Although sports drinks have very positive effects on hydration for intense exercise, for the average gym goer they aren’t necessary. Especially in those wanting to loose weight, as this will provide the fuel over the body’s glycogen or fat stores (depending on exercise). 

So remember, listen to your body… and always have some high quality H20 on you! 


- Lizzie Whitehead

Nutritional Science student