By Vishal Patel, Chief Nutritionist
At Nuun, the benefits of hydration come second nature to us, because every one of us lives an active lifestyle where hydration plays a key role. We try and communicate the importance of hydration regularly and create great tasting products to suit your various needs. But I often wonder, do people really know the true benefits of hydration? Or even do people really know what drinking fluids really does for us?
Below are some of the fundamentals principles of hydration that are often neglected.
- Hydration is energy (for your muscles)!
Most people look at hydration and think the main purpose to help prevent dehydration, and to replenish electrolyte stores that may be lost via sweat. Although both of those are true (recent studies have shown that electrolytes may play greater roles in fluids absorption than sweat replenishment), the fundamental goal of hydration is to delivery oxygen to working muscles. So, try to think about hydration or the fluid you are consuming as helping your muscles breathe, which in turn gives them the energy they need to perform.
- Water does not hydrate you.
Yes, you read that correctly! While water does fundamentally provide your body with fluid, it does not truly hydrate you. What we’ve learned is that water needs to be in a specific concentration (composing of carbohydrates and electrolytes) to exit the stomach and move into circulation where it can be used by the body. We have also learned that water needs to contain sodium to ensure proper fluid absorption. To make matters even more complicated, your "water" should contain different amounts of carbohydrates and electrolytes before/during/after your workout. That’s why at Nuun, we make products for when you’re at rest, during light exercise, and for more endurance-focused events!
- Proper hydration will help mitigate gastric distress during exercise.
To put it simply, when you are exercising, your body (stomach) is under stress. And there are ways you can eat and drink to mitigate that stress, or to encourage it. When it comes to hydration, if the ratio of carbohydrates to fluid is too high or the electrolyte profile is too low, the delivery of fluid slows down, and sits in the stomach. That’s what causes sloshing, and GI issues during racing. That will also untimely slow down any food you try and take in. We’ve designed Nuun Endurance to aid your body when it is under the most amount of stress - during endurance exercise.
- Hydration will help you fuel better.
This builds on the previous point. With proper hydration you can help eliminate the GI issues that can come with it, and allow faster and more efficient fueling. This is achieved by not overloading your system, and using multiple pathways to absorb fluids and carbohydrates.
- Hydration aids in recovery.
One area that is very crucial to the recovery process is rehydrating. What rehydrating does is it not only replenishes fluids lost during exercise, but it also helps replenish the electrolytes that were also lost (to a certain extent). However, it’s not as easy as downing a bunch of Nuun after a long workout or race. In fact, drinking too much too fast can degrade the potential gains of the workout. Here’s why - your body over time has developed a strong immune system that helps repair itself when it is under the stresses of exercise. Therefore, naturally you want your body to begin repairing itself, and slowly rehydrate, and continue to hydrate throughout the day.