You may question why we would bother writing an article on hydration, you just need to drink more water right?
Well for as long as that works for you then yes!
Where hydration principles like the ones we are about to cover become a factor is when your training volume is high, time to get fuids on board is limited and/or when you are training or competing in hot or humid environments.
Now we don’t want to give you a flashback to your school chemistry lessons so I’ll keep this brief and as painless as I can.
“Osmosis describes the movement of molecules through a semi permeable membrane from a high concentration to a low concentration.”
One way to understand the principle is to imagine you go training tonight. You pick up the barbell and you are about to start training, only for 10 people to set up their barbell right next to you! That’s right, in your personal space! Right next to you is a wide expanse of 10 metres of space for you to lift in. Naturally you would move from the area with a high concentration of people to the area with a low concentration.
The movement of water from in your digestive tract to your bloodstream is similar.
When we drink fluids they flow to the stomach. Water is one of the few substances that the stomach can absorb, however, the stomach is not the primary organ for water absorption, most water absorption occurs in the small intestine.
Now, the thing about water absorption is that there are no transport sites on the lining of the small intestine to carry water across the intestinal lining, it just flows by itself.Most nutrients however , do have receptors that pull them through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream for example there are specific receptors for amino acids, sugars and salts.
Why does this matter? Well, many compounds are co-transported across the intestinal lining.For example, for best absorption the following compounds (in red) rely on another compound (in black) for co-transportation.
Sodium—- Co-transported with —- Glucose
Water—- Co-transported with—– Sodium and Glucose
Sodium—- Co-transported with—- Amino acids
What you may have now noticed is that the compounds on the right are the ingredients commonly found in sports drinks, designed to hydrate you.
Whilst sports drinks seem to have most of the building blocks for good hydration. The lack of amino acids in some brands drinks and the ratio of sodium to glucose can be less than optimal.
If you were to drink some really salty water, lets say sea water for arguments sake, the water would stay in your gut in order to act as a buffer for the sodium.(This occurs because if you were to suddenly have significantly more sodium in your bloodstream you would pull water from your cells in order to buffer the sodium in your blood)
If ever you have been involved in intense physical exercise and then glugged down a salty sports drink you will have experienced a “sloshing around” feeling and it can feel like it wants to come back up!
Here is a recipe for making your own sports drink that will help to hydrate you with less chance of sloshing!
Mix the following and sip throughout your workout;
250ml Fresh orange
½ Teaspoon Sodium Bicarbonate
2 Teaspoons of sugar
The reason this works well is both the concentration within the drink is better but also that it has the 3 co-transporters we discussed namely amino acids, sodium and sugar.
Get on it and get hydrated!