In This Article
Do you find yourself trying to get the most effective workout possible by gulping sports drinks during exercise?
Many people who work so hard during exercise are sabotaging their weight loss and fitness success without realizing it. Join me as I discuss how to maximize your hydration routine during exercise and get the results you deserve.
One of the biggest mistakes folks make when they exercise is poor hydration choices. Well-marketed sports drinks – even ˜healthy’ or ˜natural’ ones – are loaded with sugar and, unless you are a professional endurance athlete, you simply don’t need them.
Gatorade, while loaded with electrolytes, also has tons of sugar – up to 42 grams of sugar in 24 ounces of the fitness drink. That is almost the same amount of sugar in a whole package of Twizzlers licorice, and nearly twice the amount contained in one serving of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!
I think we know that licorice and ice cream are sources of needless fatty calories. But when we are sucking down that Gatorade during a workout, few realize it is just as bad. It packs the same amount of calories, delivers the same amount of sugar, and layers the same amount of fat where you don’t want or need it.
Some choose healthier rehydration drinks during exercise, such as vitaminwater® enhanced water. Vitaminwater®contains 27 grams of sugar per bottle. Though lower in sugar than Gatorade, it’s still a very high amount of sugar for the body to process. The gels and goos that are the current fad are not much better.
Then there are the after-workout drinks, gels, and protein bars designed to build muscle mass and strength. A PowerBar – perhaps the most famous after-workout bar – has lots of good protein, but also packs a whopping 26 grams of sugar that quickly converts into body fat.
The bottom line is that the human body is just not equipped to process that much sugar at once. These energy/rehydration sports drinks deliver such a surge of sugar into the bloodstream that the body gets pushed into an emergency state. It must process the excess sugar urgently because allowing it to remain in the blood is dangerous.
The next time you are in a health club or grocery store, read the label on some of those so-called healthy sports drinks. Pay special attention to the sugar content, you may be shocked!
Don’t Undermine Your Hard Work
The quickest way for the body to lower blood sugar is to convert it quickly and effortlessly into fat in the form of triglycerides (body/belly/hip fat), or to raise cholesterol levels. Knowing this, I cringe as I watch folks sucking down their Gatorade, Powerade, and “enhanced waters.” I want to tell them, “No, No, No, stop drinking that stuff! You are making FAT with each gulp while working so hard to burn it off!”
Do you realize that it takes 14 hours of moderate exercise, like hiking or biking, or 6 hours of vigorous exercise, to lose just one pound of body fat? If you took an hour-long vigorous fitness class three times a week, it would take two weeks to lose one pound of body fat.
Exercise and activity are the major ways for the body to reduce its fat stores. Now that you know how long it takes to burn just one pound of real body fat, don’t undermine all that hard work with a sweet, fat-generating sports drink!
The best hydration beverage on the planet is – Water.
The truth is, very few of you will ever push yourselves hard enough to need to replenish electrolytes from a workout. The Tarahumara people, identified as the best runners in the world, routinely run 50, 75 and even over 100 miles a day in the hot Copper Canyon desert of Mexico, and they have probably never even tasted Gatorade!
Once in a while, in extreme circumstances, they will add chia seeds to their water to boost their reserves and continue to run through the mountains in the desert heat.
Why Can’t I Run Like the Tarahumara?
The reason most of us cannot do that is that we have become lousy fat burners. We have conditioned the body to be fed every couple of hours and de-conditioned the body to make energy last, effectively robbing us of the endurance that has allowed the human species to survive.
Do You Think You Can’t Live Without Your Sports Drink?
If you just cannot continue working out without the aid of a sports drink, stop the workout. By that time, you have already exercised too much! When you feel the need or craving for a sports drink, realize that this is a sign of your blood sugar lowering.
The blood sugar is the body’s first choice for fuel. If you do not feed it with more sugar, the body will naturally adjust to the low blood sugar by kicking into fat metabolism – and you’ll start burning fat and losing inches! But, if instead, you suck down 27 grams of sugar in the form of a sports drink, the body will say, “Oh, wait! I think the sugar is coming. Cancel the order to burn fat!”
Your Hydration Challenge
Make water your only beverage for one month and see how you feel. Replace your coffee and tea with hot water and your soft drinks with room temperature water. Try to follow this hydration protocol for one month:
- Wake up: Drink one glass of water*.
- Breakfast: Sip room temperature or hot water with breakfast.
- Between breakfast and lunch: Drink a glass of water.
- 15-20 minutes before lunch: Drink a glass of water.
- Lunch: Sip room temperature or hot water with lunch.
- Between lunch and supper: Drink a glass of water.
- 15-20 minutes before supper: Drink a glass of water.
- Supper: Sip room temperature or hot water with supper.
- Between supper and bedtime: Drink a glass of water.
In Addition: Hydration During Exercise
- 15-30 minutes before exercise: Drink 1 glass of water.
- During exercise: Take sips or small drinks of room temperature water.
- After exercise: Drink a glass of water.
Total: Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day.
* A glass of water means 8-12 ounces, depending on your size and weight; 6-8 ounces for vata men and women, 8-12 ounces for pitta or kapha men and women. Don’t know your type? Take our free Body Type Quiz here.
Don’t Misread your Body’s Thirst Signals
Many articles now suggest drinking only when you are thirsty. The problem with this is that the hunger and thirst centers in the brain are very close. Because of this, thirst is often misread as hunger or the need for Gatorade rather than water.
This Hydration Challenge is designed to break the sports drink and/or sugar and snack habit, and reacquaint ourselves with the good taste and great benefit of just plain water.
1 thought on “Rehydrate the Right Way”
Dear Dr Douillard,
The problem with drinking plain water nowadays (here in Barcelona, Spain) is that it is very poor in minerals thus decreased rehydration power! I normally suggest my clients/patients to prepare a home limonade with salt, bicarbonate, lemon and honey, and this works wonders for their rehydration needs. They then report more energy levels and less visits to pee, which for me it is an indication of hydration improvement. I would love to hear your comments on this. Thanks!