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Rants

Have we been overplaying hydration?

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Something I’ve recently learnt more about is one of the most basic things that we tend to over complicate. Our bodies are over 70% water, that means it’s important to keep your levels topped up but we spend far too much time worrying about it than is truly necessary.

An awful lot of people mention hydration to me and it’s always a requirement for corporate wellbeing workshops. “I know I don’t drink enough water”, “Is 3 litres too much?” “Yeah but tea and coffee doesn’t count, does it?”

Let’s just hold up for a minute while I simplify this for you:

  • Rather than worry about what counts and what doesn’t ask your self if you are thirsty. If you are then you probably need to have a drink.
  • The next time you go to the toilet, check your pee. Is it dark yellow? Is it smelly? If so then you need to drink more fluid. Or eat, because fruit and veg contain lots of water.
  • Are consuming mostly caffeinated, added sugar or artificially sweetened drinks? Then yes you should aim to get some water in throughout the day but you don’t have to cut them out completely. Water does not have to be your sole drink, forever.
  • If you are getting a headache and your concentration is starting to dip then it could be the onset of dehydration.
  • A hangover is severe dehydration.

What about for exercise?

It really only becomes slightly more technical for elite or endurance athletes as hydration levels can impact their performance. For athletes and those training for endurance events it may be beneficial to calculate your own sweat rate as that will assist you in knowing how much to drink, over what time frame and to ensure you don’t drink too much. This requires a short calculation and some measurements so ask for help with this one.

After intense or endurance exercise pure water is not the most rehydrating of drinks. Skimmed, whole milk or dissolvable electrolyte tablets are great as they also replace the minerals your body has lost through sweating. Try not to include sugary sweetened rehydration drinks as they are likely to add extra calories to your diet which really aren’t needed. You don’t need a Lucozade (other brands are available) after a 30 minute game of squash, you may if you’ve just run a marathon.

If you are generally into exercising it will help to start your session already hydrated. So, if you are one who likes to work out first thing in the morning, then get some fluid into you as soon as you wake up. If you are out for a leisurely Sunday jog or on your way home from Crossfit stick to the above tips and you’ll be ok.

Moral of the story. Unless you are an elite athlete, or completing in an endurance event, hydration is really, quite straightforward. There is no magic number, no formula, no ideal amount. It’s purely down to you to know yourself, I’m hopeful we can all manage that?

Protein water, two words which should never be paired

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I know……it’s not new and in the last twelve months we’ve seen protein added to a plethora of products. Some for good reason and others not so much. In the snacking market there are now tasty bars with added protein, not to mention the quark/yoghurt combo on chilled supermarket shelves to name a few. We are almost in the realms of protein fortification. Although generally in nutrition we refer to food fortification in reference to micronutrients such as vitamin D or B and minerals iodine and calcium.

Protein water. So firstly, there’s nothing really wrong with water in general, it doesn’t need to be changed, perfectly fine how it is. We use it to hydrate our bodies which are made up of around 50-60% of it (1). We’ve already got sparkling and several sugar free flavoured varieties as well as coconut water. And then this turns up. There are several brands on the market and I honestly commend anyone who is trying to start up their own business in a market which is saturated with new products. But please, if I can ask just one thing – food and drink has to actually taste nice. Forget the claims, forget how good it supposedly is for you or what it’s going to do because if you don’t like it you won’t go back for more. And if you do then perhaps rethink your priorities.

I thought, why not, and gave it a try. I was excited, I’d seen this product and wanted to try it, I opened the lid, slowly, carefully and took one sip. Then almost spat it out. The taste was so strong of something artificial, even though it contains no artificial colours of flavours? It went in the bin. 20 grams of protein, no thanks. You see you can get that (and many other nutrients might I add) from food.

½ a medium chicken breast

150g of cottage cheese

3 whole eggs,

200g of Greek yoghurt

to name a few.

Taste is key, it’s what keeps us loyal to certain foods. So, use water for its sole purpose – hydration and food for its purposes – a few which include providing us with protein and micronutrients too. Let’s not mess with the things which are already doing ok. Please.

References:

  1. Royal College of Nursing, DIY Health Check Point. https://matrix.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/519630/DIY_Information_Sheet_Total_Body_Water_Percentage.pdf