STEPHANIE, 19, asks: I do quite a lot of cardio in the gym, so I get really thirsty when I work out. A few of my friends drink energy drinks before and whilst in the gym, but I’m a bit reluctant to try them and prefer to stick to water. Am I doing the right thing?
The Colonel says: Stephanie, you’re doing the right thing by keeping yourself hydrated in the gym.
When exercising your body is losing more water than it does with normal activities, through sweat. In effect, you need to replace this to maintain your body’s health. If we go into the science of it, the hotter the temperature and the higher impact the exercise – the more water is lost from the body.
Your body uses water to regulate its temperature, transport oxygen and dispose of waste. The majority of your blood is also made up of water. So you can understand why cramps start to kick in and you feel dizzy if you don’t keep yourself hydrated.
Then comes the big debate, energy drinks or water? Water is the most obvious go to drink when we’re exercising, quenching your thirst immediately. Water is the best thing to drink to hydrate your body both before and after exercise, as it’s easily absorbed by the body without filtration. On to sports drinks – they do have some benefits, though not many! The main one is they taste a bit more interesting than water. They’re also a good idea if you’re exercising for a long period of time as they contain calories, which your body needs for energy. If you’re running long distances, you might choose a sports drink as an energy source to keep you going.
So, sports drinks vs water boils down to the intensity of your workout.
Water is never a poor choice, but sometimes that boost is what you need. The most important thing is to stay hydrated, whichever choose!