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Facts and myths about hydration

Hydration: How much to drink vs. how much you run?

"Hydration is important because the body is comprised mostly of water, and the proper balance between water and electrolytes in our bodies really determines how most of our systems function, including nerves and muscles," says Larry Kenney, PhD, a professor of physiology and kinesiology at Penn State.

Drinking fluids serves a range of purposes in our bodies, such as removing waste through urine; controlling body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; and maintaining a healthy metabolism.

"Approximately 45 to 50 percent of daily water intake comes from drinking fluids, about 35 percent from eating food and the rest from metabolism," says Stephen Rice, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., a sports medicine specialist at the Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, N.J.

Vegetables and fruits are the most hydrating (e.g., lettuce is 95 percent water). But we also get a lot from meat, as well as soup, juice, soda, milk and even coffee.

Does the cup of Joe every morning help, or as many believe, hinder? Contrary to the myth, yes, coffee counts when you're tallying fluid intake.

"There is no truth to the idea that coffee makes you dehydrated. That is a pervasive myth," says Kenney, who is a spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). "The diuretic effect of the caffeine of soda and coffee is mild compared to the amount of fluid they contain."

"You don't have to drink water per se to get water, you can eat watery foods and that will count," says Nancy Clark, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist in Boston. "Soup counts, yogurt and watermelon count. An orange is 90% water, salads are a lot of water; so all in all, people get plenty of water through foods and beverages other than water."

How Much?

We've heard for years that we need to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Before you start chugging, is it true?

"There is no scientific evidence whatsoever for that rule," says Kenney. "It's certainly not a harmful rule, but there is no scientific rationale behind it."

Instead, it's pretty simple: For the average person, drink enough so you go to the bathroom every two to four hours.

"You should be drinking enough so that you urinate every two to four hours, and that the urine is a light color," says Clark, author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook. "If you go from 8 a.m. till 3 p.m., and your urine is very dark, that's a sign that you haven't had enough to drink."

Most of us do a pretty good job of getting adequate amounts of fluids as part of our everyday routines: coffee in the morning or juice with lunch, a glass of water in the afternoon, and water with dinner. Coupled with the water that makes up our food, usually, this is sufficient.

Athletes, of course, need more.

"The exact amount of water needed per day really depends on the individual," says Rick Hall, a registered dietitian in Phoenix. "People who exercise, for example, will lose a lot more water through sweat and breathing, so their needs are higher."

Athletes need to quench their thirst even when they're not thirsty, and avoid relying on the feeling of thirst to tell them when to drink.

"Headaches and cramping are common signs of dehydration," says Hall. "However, these are late signs. Unfortunately, the body hides mild dehydration very well, and it can take hours before you recognize that you are dehydrated."

Too Much of a Good Thing

We know we need to drink fluids to maintain a healthy body, but is there such as a thing as too much?

There is a lot of information out there now about hyponatremia (low sodium levels), which is much rarer than dehydration problems, but it can still be a concern, says Kenney.

According to the ACSM web site, "While hyponatremia is a rare occurrence, it is a dangerous condition that may arise when athletes drink too much water, diluting the body's sodium levels. It is most often seen in prolonged endurance athletes, such as those participating in marathons and triathlons."

To strike a balance between too much and too little fluid intake, Kenney recommends weighing yourself before and after exercise, and drinking enough to replace the amount of weight you lose. If you're gaining weight, you know you're drinking too many fluids, and if you're losing weight, you know you need to drink more.

Water Takes the Cake

So we know we need fluids, we know the eight 8-ounce rule isn't backed by science, and we know that we need to strike a balance between too much and too little intake. We also know that almost any fluid will add value to our bodies, but water takes the blue ribbon.

"The body needs water for millions of metabolic processes, temperature control, fluid volume, and lubrication," says Hall. "But many health-conscious folks drink water often because it is a calorie-free thirst quencher. Some research shows that drinking water often may help to suppress the appetite and it certainly aids in digestion."

Products

We carry a full array of hydration products: water bottles (on belts or handheld), hydation supplements such as Nuun and Cytomax.

Here is NUUN's take on hydration:
WHY DOES DEHYDRATION HAPPEN?

Dehydration happens for lots of reasons. You're often dehydrated in the morning when you wake up simply from sleeping for hours (hopefully lots of them!) without fluids. The processes in your body are working hard while you sleep, and even just breathing results in water loss from your body. But the most common causes of dehydration are simply not drinking enough regularly and not drinking enough during or after activity to replace what's been lost. Most of the time people don't recognize the signs of dehydration and only drink when they feel thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated and are probably being affected in more ways than you realize.

WHY DOES EVERYONE TELL ME TO "CHECK YOUR PEE!" AND WHAT IF IT IS DARK-COLORED?

The first thing everyone says is, "Check the pee!" As a rule, a large amount of light colored, diluted urine probably means you are hydrated; dark colored, concentrated urine probably means you are dehydrated. While this test can be a very good general indicator, there is often more to the puzzle. Just because your urine is clear and you get rid of a lot of it doesn't necessarily mean you are optimally hydrated. Clear urine is water that is NOT being absorbed by your body.

Nuun's special formulation of electrolytes helps increase the amount of water that's absorbed into the blood stream. And that means more of the water you drink is actually used to hydrate you instead of being eliminated because the electrolyte balance wasn't right. Don't get us wrong, good hydration doesn't mean no more urine. If you drink a gallon of Nuun a lot of that is going to come right back out... however, your body is going to get plenty of good, balanced fluids first!

HOW DO I FIGURE OUT MY PERSONAL HYDRATION NEEDS?

No two people are the same, so figuring out your sweat rate is the most accurate way to figure out your personal hydration needs. And weighing yourself before and after exercise is the most effective way to gauge your fluid needs. Any weight loss corresponds with fluid loss, so try to drink enough to replenish that weight. (Weight gain could mean you are drinking more than you need.)

Studies have found that a loss of 2% or more of one's body weight due to sweating is linked to a drop in blood volume. When this occurs, the heart works harder to move blood through the bloodstream. This can also cause muscle cramps, dizziness and fatigue and even heat exhaustion or heatstroke. For all the athletes out there, it can mean a major drop in performance, and for the rest of us, it makes for a really uncomfortable day.

While water is nature's perfect fluid replacement and always will be, your needs during exercise include more than just water. You need to ensure an ideal balance of fluid, nutrients, and electrolytes in every cell of your body.

And from CYTOMAX:
When you drink 32 ounces of Cytomax for each hour that you exercise, you will be able to push your body harder without depleting your reserves and becoming exhausted at the end. This is due to enhanced oxygen carrying capacity, lower blood lactate levels, and stabilized blood sugar levels.

In the hours after workouts, instead of feeling lingering fatigue, you will feel refreshed and replenished - even after highly intense sessions. Cellular balance will be restored quickly when you deliver the nutrients and performance ingredients your body needs during exercise with Cytomax.

Some "energy" drinks can be worse than water for hydration. Many commercial drinks are too high in sugar, causing digestive distress and slowing gastric emptying time. These factors can actually lead to dehydration.

Cytomax contains numerous ingredients designed specifically to improve athletic performance and recovery, generating the following list of reasons why Cytomax will help you perform better and recover faster.

1. Hydrates as effectively as plain waterResearch shows that an energy drink mixed at a 7% carbohydrate solution has the same gastric emptying rate as plain water. Following the mixing instructions for Cytomax powder or drinking the convenient ready-to-drink Cytomax will hydrate you optimally with a 7% carbohydrate solution.

2. Alpha L-Polylactate reduces muscle fatigueCytomax is known as the world's most scientifically advanced exercise and recovery drink because of its patented Alpha-L-Polylactate (lactate with the acid removed), a designer-engineered carbohydrate molecule that has proven conclusively in University studies to help buffer lactic acid production in exercising muscles. Alpha- L-Polylactate helps you "Beat The Burn" by accelerating the process of converting lactic acid back into glucose to be used as energy, preventing the painful burning sensation that occurs with high intensity exercise and protecting against muscle tissue breakdown in the hours after exercise.

3. Complex carbohydrates provide sustained energyCytomax utilizes a blend of complex and simple carbs for its calorie sources. Maltodextrin, amylopectin starches and other long chain carbohydrate molecules provide sustained energy to balance simple carbohydrate energy sources. Most commercial energy drinks derive all of their calories from simple carbohydrates, resulting in blood sugar swings and digestive difficulties.

Efficient, steady delivery of caloric energy to working muscles helps prevent bonking (depletion of blood sugar that results in dramatic fatigue) and reduces gluconeogenesis during exercise (breaking down muscle tissue for energy).

4. Succinates enhance oxygen carrying capacityThe succinates in Cytomax have been measured to improve oxygen consumption by 11% while exercising at the same intensity. When your muscles have more oxygen, you perform better and preserve tissue from damage caused by lack of oxygen during intense workouts.

5. Antioxidants prevent free radical damageIngesting antioxidants (contained in Cytomax's Tangy Orange flavored powder) during exercise, a time when free radical production is high, will reduce the overall stress of workouts and speed recovery.

6. Electrolytes prevent cramping and restore cellular balanceThe electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and others), along with the vitamins and minerals found in Cytomax are combined in ideal amounts and ratios to prevent cramping and restore cellular balance quickly after exercise.

7, 8, 9 & 10. While you bring home another top-6 race finish, these are the places your competitors will finish when they drink water while you replace fluids and replenish energy at the same time with Cytomax.


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