Sports Drinks and Dehydration

More for the parents of athletic children, this article from The New York TimesWell blog still contains some useful all-round advice on hydration during exercise. In the comments the author also links to this urine colour test for dehydration.

When [exercising children] were offered grape-flavored water, they voluntarily drank 44.5 percent more than when the water was unflavored. And when the drink included 6 percent carbohydrates and electrolytes — when, in other words, it was a sports drink — they eagerly downed 91 percent more than when offered water alone. Does this mean that parents […] should be stocking their refrigerators with [sports drinks]? The answer is a qualified ‘yes.’ […]

But that ‘yes’ has clear and definable limits. “Sports drinks are only appropriate in the context of sports, and I mean serious sports,” emphasizes Nancy Clark, a registered dietician and sports nutritionist in Boston, who often works with young athletes. If, however, your 12-year-old or older athlete has begun competing at a more intense level, especially if he or she participates in multiple practices or competitions in a single day during the summer, “sports drinks are appropriate,” Clark says.

So not you or I after our daily workout, basically. The article also contains this recipe for making your own sports drink:

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 1/2 cups cold water

(Dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water then add the remaining ingredients. Approx. 50 calories and 110 mg of sodium per 8 ounces.)

via Lifehacker



2 responses to “Sports Drinks and Dehydration”

  1. Reilly

    I’ve found the urine colour test to be not very useful if you take multivitamins (and at least intuitively, that seems like a good idea). Like it says in the PDF, “Certain medicines and vitamins may cause the colour of the urine to change.” Every multivitamin I’ve tried does this.

  2. In the comments, the author, Gretchen Reynolds, actually says of urine tests:

    It is true, however, that the single best measure of water loss during activity is not urine concentration. The best measure is weight fluctuation. If you weigh yourself or your child immediately before and immediately after exercise, taking into account just how much fluid has been ingested during the exercise, you can estimate fairly accurately how much body water has been lost. In general, two pounds of weight loss is equivalent to about 1 quart of lost body water.

    And I suppose that yes, it is quite unscientific given that multivitamins can alter its colour (not to mention various foods—beetroot, for example).