The Athletes Guide to Hydration & Recovery
by Nadezhda Pavlova, Deputy Ex. Editor
by Nadezhda Pavlova, Deputy Ex. Editor
Being an athlete is no easy feat. Along with the rigorous training and exercise that are routinely accomplished, athletes must be more health-conscious and pay attention to signs of stress on the body. They heavily invest in their bodies because it is the most important asset for an athlete. There will always be a wide variety of health products promising to provide you an energy boost and make you feel better than ever currently available in the market in many forms. But, how many deliver?
In this article, I will talk about the importance of proper hydration and effective recovery from inflammation. I will also provide some tips for athletes to stay ontop of their game. Additionally, I will provide my personal preference for a sports hydration recovery drink called Bala that gives me what I need to stay hydratedand at peak performance every day.
From an early age, we are all told our bodies are mostly made up of water. This means hydration is extremely vital for us to maintain temperature regulation, digestion, absorption of nutrients, blood pressure levels, and lubrication of joints
among other body processes.
As athletes work out, fluid is constantly lost through sweating, urinating, or in cases of injury, blood loss. Fluids must be periodically replenished in the necessary amounts. It is important to recognize that moderation is a must. Too little or too much is critical.
Drinking water only when you are thirsty during your training will make you dehydrated. Since thirst is a sign that you are already dehydrated, you should be drinking before, during, and after a workout.As the weather increases during summer, we lose more fluid than usual through the simple act of sweating. Rule of thumb, if it is hot and you are not sweating, you are already dehydrated. Short-duration tasks are usually more manageable, while long-duration ones are especially challenging in the heat.
Dehydration is dangerous, will create many physical omplications, and hinder optimal athletic performance. Lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramping, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), chapped lips, and dry mouth are some of the most common signs and symptoms experienced while thirsty. Dehydration increases the risk of fatigue and decreases endurance capacity, leading to poor performance and possibly endangering an athlete’s life.
For athletes, joint health is a very important topic. Our joints are lubricated. This enables them to remain flexible and minimizes the possibility of gout attacks and stress injury. Now let’s talk about inflammation.
There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic. The type of inflammation an athlete must primarily be concerned about is acute. Fitness inflammation is the normal response of your body’s immune system to injuries including overuse.
Immune cells, triggered by the inflammatory response, quickly react after an injury to protect and heal it. Your body raises blood flow to the area, which causes redness and warmth, while fluid leaking into your tissues results in swelling. The most important thing to remember is that inflammation isn’t always the enemy, inflammation levels are linked to recovery from exercise and acute spikes are good and necessary. These post-workout responses are not a bad side effect of exercise. Inflammatory proteins are positively correlated with muscle growth. To aid muscle growth, your levels of inflammation should spike high as possible for a short time after each workout. A buildup of this inflammation without relief can lead to chronic inflammation.
When you have chronic inflammation it can stand in the way of your fitness goals because muscle and joint inflammation from too many intense workouts without enough focus on proper recovery or proper nutrition will negatively impact your overall health. Chronic inflammation, which can occur throughout the body, should be eliminated at all costs because it is an ongoing destructive process. It is damaging because it causes immune cells to attack healthy areas of the body.
Some athletes may turn to OTC pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, to decrease inflammation and reduce pain, but these drugs have been associated with stomach damage and may actually impair your body’s ability to recover and get stronger. Additionally, most athletic studies recommend avoiding NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) like aspirin or ibuprofen all together for a few hours before and 12-24 hours after the workout.
In terms of staying hydrated, a common question is whether it’s better to consume water alone or to consume sports drinks. Water is usually the best choice when it comes to short-duration activities as not many electrolytes are lost in that amount of time. However, it becomes a necessity for an athlete to refuelon electrolytes if the exercise lasts for more than one and a half hours, and one hour or less if it’s a high-intensity workout and in hot weather conditions.
Athletes lose more nutrients and ions in their bodies after workouts. Sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, and magnesium are examples of electrolytes that help athletes perform their best. These positively and negatively charged ions help maintain equilibrium in body functions. Dehydration disturbs this necessary concentration.
Drinking sports drinks is one of the ways an athlete ensures that he or she does not run out of electrolytes. Sports drinks are usually made up of water with electrolytes such as potassium and sodium. They can also contain carbohydrates to replenish our body fuel during intense physical activities. Even with the benefits they offer, many are loaded with sugar, defeating a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. However, there are plenty of other healthy options out here that promise to resupply our water and electrolyte needs.
As previously stated, these positive and negative ions are vital for optimal athletic performance. They are also known as the body’s electric tissues. Among the different forms that electrolytes take, the most important are sodium, potassium, and chloride. The main role of sodium in the body is to regulate extracellular fluid volume as it tries to maintain normal blood pressure and volume. It is also needed for our nerves and muscles to communicate and do their jobs in helping us complete our day-to-day tasks.
Similar to sodium, potassium also aids in maintaining fluid volume and making sure that our nerves and muscles are contracting properly. It also plays a role in making sure that our hearts are beating properly, and that our kidneys are filtering our blood. Too much or too little potassium can be dangerous.
When your body becomes low on electrolytes, it can impair your body’s functions, such as blood clotting, muscle contractions, acid balance, and fluid regulation.
Other symptoms are exhaustion, sleepiness, headaches, muscle cramping, and confusion or disorientation. Your heart is a muscle, so it’s very important to remember electrolytes help regulate your heartbeat. You can replenish your electrolyte needs by eating food that has a high mineral count. However, the easiest and fastest way to deliver electrolytes to your body is through drinking electrolytes-infused sports drinks.
Bala is the first drink of its kind providing electrolytes and plant-based enzymes which help reduce inflammation in the muscles and joints. Unlike many sports drinks, it contains ZERO added sugars. Bala does not compromise flavor. What sets Bala apart from other sports drinks is in addition to electrolytes, it also contains inflammation-busting enzymes and tissue healing amino acids.
Enzymes are vital for life and serve a wide range of important functions in the body, such as aiding in digestion, hydration, recovery, and metabolism.
Bala has 3 key enzymes that help to fortify an athlete’s body after an intense workout.
TURMERIC – Turmeric root, with its active ingredient curcumin, is known for itsanti-inflammatory benefits, antioxidant properties, and healing joint support.
BROMELAIN – This enzyme from the pineapple stem aids in reducing inflammation boosts recovery from muscle soreness and increases the body’s absorption and effects of Turmeric.
PAPAIN – This enzyme only found in papaya fruit increases the production of the necessary immune cells to speed healing. It’s an effective anti-inflammatory which also helps aid digestion.
All of these ingredients make Bala healthier and more appropriate for athletes. They are also gluten-free and can be enjoyed by people following keto diets. Bala comes in three delicious, not too sweet flavors, berry, lime, and pineapple. My favorite is pineapple.
Simply drink Bala by adding the contents of the stick pack to your water bottle. Shake until the powder dissolves, and it’s ready! Since it is made with pure organic Turmeric, you may have to give it a couple of shakes throughout drinking.
The life of an athlete is filled with harsh training, stressful competitions, and strict diets. To perform our best, we give up a lot of things.
Despite the difficulties, athletes also experience a lot of happiness when participating in their respective sports. We sacrifice so much and train so hard for a moment of glory. As we make our journey in making our names and abilities known, we intelligently consume adequate nutrition with properly balanced diets.
One thing that we can never take for granted is our health.
Remember, our body needs to be rehydrated with water and replenished with electrolytes and nutrients to heal, progress, and win.
Stay hydrated athletes!