Monday, October 24, 2011

What to put in your water bottle

Obviously, being active requires that you stay hydrated. Just as obviously, there are good things and bad things to hydrate with. Here are the pros and cons of some drinks:

Workout type drinks:
  • Water: There is no downside to drinking water. It is always the best choice. Your body needs liquid to get through the day. A good rule of thumb is to make at least 1/2 (if not all) of that plain water.
  • Diet drinks (such as Crystal Light and other mix ins): I personally can't tolerate these. The artificial sweeteners can also trigger sugar cravings in some people. I do not recommend these, but if you drink them, do NOT fool yourself and do NOT count them as water - they are NOT water, they are chemicals. If you drink this stuff, make sure you alternate with water.
  • Fruit juice (real, 100% fruit juice, such as Northland, not "juice product" that has high fructose corn syrup as the second ingredient): Although juices are obviously better than soda, they are very high in calories and miss one of the main benefits of fruit, which is the fiber. They aren't horrible for you, and can be a nice treat here and there, but drink sparingly. You are better off eating an apple or orange and drinking a glass of water with it.
  • Sports drinks: There are 3 basic types of sports drinks:
    • Gatorade, Powerade types: These are high calorie, high sugar drinks. If you are running a marathon or working outside in extreme conditions, you can justify drinking these, but otherwise, stick to something with less sugar. And, if you do drink them, alternate a bottle of sports drink with a bottle of water.
    • G2: This is the lower calorie Gatorade. Personally, I like this a lot, it does not contain aspartame, and doesn't bother my stomach. That said, I don't kid myself - I drink it cause it tastes like Kool-aid, I am well aware I don't need a sports drink for the type of workouts that I do. It is also pretty expensive.
    • Power Pak (or other brands of electrolyte replacements): I have tried these in the really hot days of summer for my six mile walks, and it could have just been the power of suggestion, but I do think I had more energy without all the sugar of a typical sports drink. The only downside was that it tasted kind of like vaguely fruit-flavored spit.
Other drinks:
  • Coffee/Tea: If you can tolerate it, a little caffeine will not hurt you. Note however, that it is a diuretic, and cannot be used for hydration. Do not bring a thermos of coffee for a long hike; save the coffee for your morning jolt.
  • Soda/Diet Soda: Personally, I cannot tolerate any carbonated beverages due to tummy issues. But I know that I do not have to tell you that soda is not good for you in general; it is nothing but calories and chemicals. A can here and there won't kill you, but do NOT let it replace water in your diet, even if you are drinking diet soda.
  • Energy drinks: I have not tried many of these. The ones I have tried generally had a LOT of calories, a LOT of caffeine, and tasted kind of like someone drank a bunch of coffee, puked the coffee into a carburetor, then drained the carburetor and bottled the results. Honestly, if you are so tired that you are desperate enough to drink something this nasty, either take a nap or see a doctor.
  • Wine/Beer/Spirits: Again, something I can't tolerate. If however, you can tolerate it, it's really not that bad for you when used in moderation, and there are some health benefits to certain types. However, do not let the fact that it's "just a glass of wine" or "just a beer" fool you; when it comes down to it, it's just empty calories. 
Let me know if I missed your favorite drink!