Our bodies are constantly working to rebalance and maintain a stable internal environment to stay healthy, otherwise known as homeostasis. One of the ways we do this is through regulating the fluids and electrolytes in our bodies to ensure we are properly hydrated.
This is most important when it comes to exercise, as after a sweaty workout session our bodies need to work overtime to get back to normal. In order to help our bodies do this and fully recover, we need to make sure we rehydrate quickly and effectively.
On a day to day basis, we lose on average two litres of water just through breathing, sweating, urine and bowel movements. Yet, when we exercise, we can lose up to two litres per hour!
In order to avoid cell damage, the amount of water in the blood should be kept stable at all times. There must be a healthy balance between water gained from food and drink, and the amount lost through sweating and urine, for example.
There is a part of the brain, called the hypothalamus, which helps control this. It detects whether or not there is enough water in the blood and, if there is not enough, it releases a hormone called ADH. ADH travels to the kidneys and triggers more water to be reabsorbed into your blood. This is why you may notice that your urine is much more concentrated, and darker in colour, when you’re dehydrated, as there is less water being lost this way.
After intense training, many athletes claim to start craving salty foods; this is especially common among long-distance runners and endurance athletes. Studies show that this is no fad and, in fact, sweaty exercise does tend to increase our preference for salt. But, why does this happen?
Well, in addition to water, we also lose electrolytes in our sweat. Electrolytes are found in our blood and help deliver fluids to cells around our body. They play an important role in regulating blood pressure, muscle contractions and keeping the body functioning properly. One of the main electrolytes we lose in our sweat is sodium, an element found in salt. The body will naturally start craving salty foods in order to help the body recover and replace the sodium lost naturally. This is an example of homeostasis.
It can become dangerous if we lose too much sodium. A common condition among endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, is Hyponatremia which is caused by low concentrations of sodium in the blood. Hyponatremia can cause lethargy and confusion, and in extreme cases seizures, coma or even fatalities.
Everyone’s body is different. The hydration your body needs will depend on various factors, such as activity level, height, weight, age, climate, alcohol consumption etc. Here are our top tips on how to rehydrate quickly but remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you!
The obvious solution to dehydration is to drink more water. However, this is usually only effective if you’ve just done a light workout and not really broken a sweat. In this case, eating and drinking normally is sufficient to replace the fluids and electrolytes lost. Homeostasis will trigger you to feel thirsty to make you drink more water and your body will sort itself out.
Did you know that most fruits and vegetables contain approximately 80-99% water? Some fruit and veg with the highest water content includes: berries, melons, carrots, spinach, grapes and oranges. And, not only do they have high water content but are packed with nutrients too, therefore make a great addition to a balanced diet.
A couple of common alternatives to pre-workout drinks are tea and coffee, since they both contain caffeine which provides you with an energy boost. However, caffeine also has its downsides; it is known to increase urination and dehydrate the body. When partaking in strenuous exercise, we suggest cutting out the caffeine or taking extra measures to rehydrate, perhaps with an electrolyte drink mix.
Sometimes, water just doesn’t cut it. When you’re training hard and sweating lots, you are losing much more water and electrolytes than normal. This is when you need to take a proactive approach to rehydration. If you’re looking how to rehydrate quickly, you should consider an oral rehydration solution or powder.
This type of solution nourishes your body with the right mix of electrolytes, as well as water, and is the best way to rehydrate. SOS Hydration combines a powerful blend of sodium, potassium, magnesium, citrate, chloride, sugars, zinc and malic acids; all of these work together to keep your body hydrated and healthy.
SOS meets World Health Organization standards as an Oral Rehydration Solution, and is effective for mild to moderate dehydration; it is just as effective as an IV drip. You can drink SOS hydration pre-workout, post-workout, or on a regular basis. It helps you obtain the optimum balance of electrolytes, absorb three times more water than simply just drinking water, and can increase physical performance by up to 20%.