Water remains best option to keep athletes hydrated


by Ashley Van Alstine

During the hot summer months, student athletes may find themselves in a quandary as to what drinks are the best drinks for re-hydrating. Due to the increase in temperature, the body sweats more. Like your own personal thermos, this sweat is trying to keep your body at its core temperature.

However, during this regulation your body is losing fluids and electrolytes, which are important and need to be restored. So what should an athlete do to most effetely replenish the body? There seems to be some debate about what choice is the best choice to make.

Simpson College Nurse Michelle Cross said that sports drinks do work better than water when it comes to replacing electrolytes.

“Sports drinks replace electrolytes, and what electrolytes do is they are essential minerals,” Cross said. “They control the osmosis of water between body compartments, and they help maintain the acid-base balance, so for excessive and extreme workouts sports drinks are beneficial.”

Many college students turn to different beverages after a sporting event, including alcohol; chemistry.about.com gives a rundown of what drinks are best and why.

According to the Web site, water is the choice for hydration and it hydrates better than any other liquid, both before and during exercise. You need to drink four to six ounces of water for every 15-20 minutes of exercise.

Sports drinks, don’t hydrate better than water, but you are more likely to drink larger volumes, which leads to better hydration. Carbonated soft drinks aren’t good for you, they damage your teeth and may even weaken your bones, but they also provide a quick energy boost. Avoid those drinks with lots of sugar and caffeine.

Finally, alcoholic beverages are a bad choice because they don’t hydrate your body. Alcoholic beverages are better for hydration than, say, seawater, but that’s about it, so try to avoid any alcohol consumption while trying to hydrate the body.

So, when is the best time to drink sports drinks and which ones should you avoid? According to sophomore Jamie Keller, a biology and sports administration double-major at Simpson, the key to using the drinks for hydration is in the size of the bottle.

“Sports drinks are good only after exercise lasting more than two hours,” Keller said. “Also, they need to be slightly watered down and never carbonated. The larger the mouth on the bottle, the better, because large quantities empty from the stomach faster than smaller quantities.

A popular choice to replenish the body doesn’t come in just liquids according to junior athletic trainer April Bachinski.

“A lot of athletes use a multivitamin,” Bachinski said. “Multivitamins offer a lot of vitamins and minerals that you don’t get in food. Take the vitamin in the morning and it works throughout the day. Then after a workout drink chocolate milk and eat a whole-wheat bagel, this will replace the protein and minerals that you have lost.”

Though the verdict is still out on what procedures are best for recovering after a physical workout, this much is for sure; maximum amount of liquids, regardless of what it is, is key in the hydrating process.

And the bottom line? According to chemistry.com, drink water for maximum hydration, but feel free to mix things up a bit to cater to your personal taste. You will drink more of that you like. In the end, the quantity of liquid is the biggest factor for getting and staying hydrated.