Water, Hydration, Electrolytes, Enhancers Facts and Stories

The Earth is roughly 2/3 water. Your body is roughly 2/3 water. Water’s chemistry is two atoms of Hydrogen combined with one atom of Oxygen (H20). If we only had H20 available for drinking and our body systems received no elements, minerals, vitamins, salts and essential electrolytes, we could NOT endure. We need balanced proportions of all the aforementioned so our bodies can function holistically in health.

Roughly 2/3 of the American population is clinically dehydrated. The reasons are endless. So, how much and what types of water should we drink?

Take your body weight in pounds (lbs), divide by two, the answer is read in fluid ounces (fl.oz) and that’s how much water you should drink in a 24hr period.

Example: 160 (lbs) / 2 = 80 (fl.oz) = 5 pints water / 24hr.

The above formula is based on general population doing normal activities of daily living. Increased exercise will require extra ingestion of water.

Water

Tap water is readily available but contains chlorine and fluoride both of which are poisons to the human organism. Rain water is acidic and toxic from air pollution. Filtered tap and rain water, containing essential salts, can remove a lot of toxins, but not all.

Acidic water is detrimental to humans allowing our bodies to weaken and become prone to illness. Alkaline water (also called Base) is advantageous to humans and strengthens our immune systems.

All carbonated drinks are acidic – Bad. Some contain excess sugar – Bad. That excess sugar is transmuted and stored as body fat – Bad. But we all have weaknesses and desires, so allow yourself to enjoy one of these drinks occasionally. Nobody expects you to live like a Monk or a Nun.

Diuretics. Drinks That Make You Pee

Removal of water from the bloodstream and other body systems is generally not a good idea in a normal healthy individual. Coffee, tea, Gatorade, alcohol all increase your trips to the bathroom and help towards dehydration however enjoyable their effects are at the time.

Mineral and Vitamin Leaching

Coffee and Alcohol leach mineral and vitamins from your body and leave you more prone to muscle cramps. So, use them sparingly. I see people almost daily who complain about muscle cramps. In most cases they are clinically dehydrated drinking less than 2½ pints water a day, plus in excess of two cups of coffee a day. Only 50% of the water in coffee (and tea) counts towards your daily intake, and worse, it leaches the necessary minerals for optimum muscle release.

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Performance Enhancement Drinks

There are endless choices so here are some things to ponder.

Your body PH value is optimally very slightly alkaline (base), neither strongly acidic nor strongly alkaline (base). Electrolytic drinks contain essential replacement salts. Salts refers to everything to do with minerals and vitamins. There are three types of electrolytic drinks:-

1)     Hypotonic – a solution containing less salts concentration than human blood.

2)     Isotonic – a solution containing the same salts concentration as human blood.

3)     Hypertonic – a solution containing more salts concentration than human blood.

Performance enhancing drinks usually fall into isotonic or hypertonic categories. Their object is to replace the lost salts you are exuding through millions of sweat pores due to increased levels of exercise. (Or maybe it’s just a really hot day that’s making you sweat – doesn’t happen much here in Washington State!!). These types of drinks should definitely be considered for runs in excess of 90 minutes.

It’s pretty easy to train yourself for minimal hydration on your runs. In the past I have run for 3 hours without a drink in the Texas heat. I made up for the losses though immediately on completion of my training runs. At official organized runs or races water and other drinks are available on the course and in the finishers paddock. Remember, one pint of water weighs one pound and you’ve got to carry it!!!

I once trained for a marathon using only Gatorade as my form of hydration. On race day the only choices were plain tap water or Powerade. I was unfamiliar with Powerade and opted to not drink it. I barely drank anything during the first 13 miles and then only a few sips of water. I paid the price dearly by hitting the wall dramatically at mile 17 through 24. My pace dwindled pathetically whilst I slowly recuperated by chugging water. As soon as I’d recovered, enough, I was able to sprint to the finish and end up beating my expected goal finish time. I was happy but my body wasn’t. I took three days for my body to recover from my foolishness.

On that very same marathon a younger competitor collapsed and died on the course, due to excessive dehydration to the point of literally bursting blood vessels in their legs and bleeding out. The person had been running at a fast, competitive pace and had not drank any liquids at all.

Performance Enhancement and Recovery Drinks – Combined

These drinks include balanced proportions of salts, carbohydrates and proteins along with proprietary products that allow cells to “plump” up. The extra hydration stored in every cell allows the body to increase endurance with less wear and tear on muscles and joints. Accelerade is an example of this.

Performance Recovery Drinks.

These usually include protein in liquid form and are best taken within 30 minutes of completion of exercise. Protein is absolutely necessary for muscle repair and enhancement, combating the effects of all the micro muscle tears you’ve created from intense exercise.

End Note.

I managed to do my fastest time in 2011 Rhody Run compared to the previous 10 years most likely to an unplanned experiment with caffeine and Zija XM+. After two cups of instant coffee (coffee snobs cut me some slack, I’m a Brit after all) and one pint of Zija XM+ about one to two hours prior to race start I drove to the venue. I felt super-jittery almost agitated as my body and brain raced around. I could barely control my driving with ever changing increased speed and checking myself to the speed limits. It was difficult to concentrate. On the race start line I was like a race horse ready for the gun. Four miles into the run I was a full one minute ahead of my previous best split time and knew if I could just hang on to the pace I would do a good time. You know the rest of the story – fastest I’d done in 10 years. There were no lingering effects of the extreme caffeine buzz which had been worked out of my system during the excesses of the race. I could enjoy my normal relaxed self in the finishers paddock watching other contestants cross the finish line whilst enjoying a free beer.

I plan on trying the same combo of coffee and Zija XM+ for other events.