How and what to drink whereas exercising?

After a good workout and sweating, we all long for a nice cold drink to quench our thirst.

Water has always been the preferred choice, although to replace lost electrolytes, some prefer to opt for sports drinks.

Whatever you choose to drink, hydration is key to exercise recovery.

However, it is equally important to drink before and during exercise, not just when your throat is dry after exercise.

And chugging is not the right way to rehydrate; instead, you should continue to inhale fluids throughout your workout.

Watch how endurance racers refuel – cyclists carry cycling hydration packs that allow them to carry more water than standard-sized water bottles.

This makes transporting water and drinking more convenient because they don’t have to stop or slow down to take a sip.

They use a tube (like a straw) connected to a water bag or reservoir, and drink.

For marathon runners, water hydration stations are placed every 5 km during the race.

Imagine yourself dehydrated and given intravenous fluids – the doctor doesn’t pump you up with lots of fluids at once, but drips them little by little.

If you haven’t been properly hydrated during the day, you may feel dizzy, confused, or have a headache while exercising.

No matter how many liters of fluid you drink at the time, it will not relieve your symptoms instantly.

Best to go home, hydrate slowly and rest.

The easiest way to check your hydration status is to observe the color of your urine – if it’s pale yellow and flowing well, you’re fairly hydrated.

If your urine is dark yellow in color and you don’t urinate often, you may be dehydrated.

Keep in mind that dark yellow urine can also be caused by taking certain vitamin pills and is nothing to worry about if you are urinating normally.

Plan well

Water is definitely the best option to replenish lost fluids.Water is definitely the best option to replenish lost fluids.

You read that right, you have to plan how to hydrate, especially on long workouts.

The average person will lose up to half a liter of sweat for every 30 minutes of exercise, depending on the intensity, and this fluid needs to be replenished.

When I (used to) go hiking, I wouldn’t bring a water bottle with me, thinking that the two hour workout would end quickly and I could go to the store for some fresh coconut water afterwards.

Also, I want free arms and don’t like carrying a water bottle in my hand or backpack.

Then one day, we were both hiking on a nearby trail and my friend started to feel faint.

He usually hikes on an empty stomach, and I think the hot and humid day, coupled with the fact that his glucose levels may be dropping, is causing him to feel weak.

A lot of people were in the forest, so we couldn’t move fast enough to get out.

He had emptied his mini water bottle and I had nothing to offer.

Seeing us on the ground, another hiker quickly came to our rescue and gave him chocolate and water.

Someone poured cold water over his head to lower his body temperature and advised us to always carry a large water bottle in the future, as the short hike could be a long, even fatal.

So not only do you need water to stay hydrated, but it’s also useful for splashing yourself to cool off.

We rested for a while and made it out safely.

After that incident, I never left the house without a bottle of water, salty candy, bar beans, air oil, umbrella, and recently, hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes.

In the West, there are fountains installed in most parks, but we have no such thing here.

Even if we do, we may see the bad side of Malaysians with fountains that our local councils may tamper with, spat on or not properly care for.

Effects of caffeine

Post-workout coffee is a hot debate in the world of fitness and science, but it seems that coffee has the potential to help the body recover.

Caffeine can help keep glycogen levels high after exercise.

If your glycogen levels are depleted, you will experience muscle soreness and fatigue from exercise.

A 2021 study in the journal Nutrition found that coffee with an adequate amount of carbohydrates increased muscle glycogen resynthesis during four hours of recovery after intense cycling exercise.

Some people swear by post-workout iced coffee, saying it gives them a boost.

However, immediately after exercising, you should really drink water first before taking a cup of coffee.

As long as you prioritize hydration like water and electrolyte drinks, and use coffee in addition, coffee can be part of an effective post-workout recovery strategy.

Before exercising, if you really need that coffee, drink it at least an hour before exercising.

But then again, every individual is different.

For example, I can drink tea an hour before aerobic exercise and have a lot of energy.

But it makes me nauseous if I do twist yoga poses, so if I have a yoga class I need to drink tea at least 1.5 hours in advance.

As to whether coffee causes dehydration, research suggests it doesn’t.

In a 2019 study published in International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Sports MetabolismResearchers divided healthy men into three groups and served drinks containing four different concentrations of sucrose (rich in sugar), sodium, or caffeine.

They then collected the man’s urine output over the next four hours.

They found that urine output was lower with drinks containing higher levels of sugar and sodium, compared with those with lower amounts.

But when they looked at drinks with different amounts of caffeine, the scientists saw no change in the men’s urine output.

Thus, the researchers concluded that up to 400mg of caffeine (roughly four cups) had no impact on the hydration potential, or ability to retain fluids, of the drink.

What about alcohol?

There's nothing wrong with drinking a light beer after a workout because it's just as hydrating as water.  — AFPThere’s nothing wrong with drinking a light beer after a workout because it’s just as hydrating as water. — AFP

Liquor is a strict no-no, but drinking beer after a long walk in the sun is common to many – it’s cool and refreshing.

Some may reject the thought, but apparently, there’s nothing wrong with drinking light beer to aid post-workout recovery, and it may even be as good as water in some aspects.

Beer is made from natural ingredients, including malted cereal (most commonly barley), hops, yeast and water.

Although the alcohol content can vary from less than 1% to more than 15%, regular beer contains about 5% alcohol by volume.

Based on studies of beer consumption related to endurance sports, beer with less than 4% alcohol is effective as a post-workout hydrator.

Adding sodium to low-alcohol beer can improve its rehydrating properties, but it may not be suitable for some tastes.

Of course, you shouldn’t drink alcohol before exercising as it will slow down all your body systems.

You may not be able to coordinate from left to right, and potentially injury.

In conclusion, if you are not a serious athlete, just go with the flow and continue to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

Every little sip counts.

Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to defy gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. For more information, email starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Also not Star nor does the author make any warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other warranties of the information. Star and the author disclaims all liability for any loss, property damage or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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