As the years go by, our water intake reduces, often unknowingly. For some of us, we just don’t feel as thirsty as we did when we were kids. Others only drink water when we actually feel parched—an indication that we’re actually already dehydrated. Drinking water through the day, no matter how busy you get or how thirsty you feel, delivers a number of health benefits.
If you’re on a weight-loss diet, increasing your water intake can actually help with shedding those extra pounds. A study conducted over 12 weeks showed people on diets who drank 500ml of water before meals lost an average of 4.6 pounds, as compared to those who didn’t increase their water intake.
Even if you’re not on a diet, a healthy amount of water can better your mood and keep fatigue and lethargy at bay. Your cognitive abilities are improved when you stay hydrated, and if you suffer from nagging headaches, re-hydration could be the answer.
Even though one study showed that drinking cold water can improve metabolism by 30%, chronic dehydration affects 75% of the American population. This opens the door for a variety of health complications. Kidney stones, for example, have been linked to severe dehydration.
Water isn’t the most exciting drink out there. But luckily for those who of us who get bored with H20, there are a number of drinks that can help you stay hydrated, whether you’re working out or just living your daily life.
Keep Hydrated – options other than water
If you work out on a day-to-day basis, hydration is vital to your physical health. Perspiration makes your body lose a lot of water, and that needs to be compensated for. Whether you’re running, biking or lifting weights, one way of improving endurance and lowering the heart rate is to keep hitting the water bottle.
When your fitness regime pushes you to achieve higher goals, a sip now and then is not going to cut it. But water alone doesn’t equal proper hydration. Along with water, your body loses sodium and potassium. There is such a thing called water intoxication, which means there’s more H2O than sodium in your body. It’s crucial to keep the recommended balance of sodium and potassium, too.
Here’s the bottom line: if you’re serious about working out, chances are you’re going to need a bigger boost in hydration to keep you at your best. Here are six other liquids, other than water, that can help your body cope with physical exertion.
Milk: With its natural blend of carbs, protein and sodium, milk is effective at helping you retain fluids. A Galloway trial found that people who were served milk retained 30% of the fluids consumed over a two-hour period. They were able to stay hydrated for four hours. Another study showed that milk was a better post-workout hydrator than Powerade.
Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS): If you haven’t had any fluid intake for a long period of time, dehydration can wreak havoc on your system. ORS provides the right mix of salt, glucose and water to get you back on track. Osmotically, ORS is similar in structure to blood, hence its ability to spur quick rehydration.
Herbal Tea: Loaded with antioxidants, herbal tea comes in a variety of flavors, from chamomile, jasmine and rose to good old green tea. These antioxidants keep cell damage at bay. The natural phytochemicals contained in teas are also known to boost cognitive functions and attention span. According to the Mayo Clinic, caffeine isn’t as much of a dehydrator as many advertisements would lead you to believe.
Sports Drinks: These drinks are formulated specifically to replace fluids rapidly and to increase glucose content in your blood, making them an alternative to water during or after heightened physical activity. Electrolytes lost while at the gym or after a run need to be replaced; sports drinks can help do that. Drinks like Powerade and Gatorade contain sodium and potassium that the body loses while working out. For best results, stay away from carbonated varieties.
Detox water: Given that water contains zero calories, infusing it with crushed herbs, vegetables and fruits has caught on lately, especially for dieters. The logic behind detox water is to flavor the water so that you’re inclined to drink more of it through the day. Adding fruit to your bottle of water delivers a much lower calorie count than drinking a glass of fresh juice. While detox water may not have any magical qualities above and beyond what water already delivers, it has become popular for helping to make that glass of H20 more enticing.
Can the hydrating potential of lager be the same as water? Turns out that it can. But before you head to the pub pre-workout, note this important caveat: researchers say heavy beers with a high sodium and alcohol content can do more harm than good. So it’s best not to switch from water to beer—especially pre-workout.