Sports Drinks and the Heat
It has been hot …. Really really hot, with excessive heat warnings and some impressive lightning displays. With the excessive heat comes the threat of dehydration and heat stroke. This is especially a worry for anyone wanting to stay active during the heat wave or students wanting to get in shape for the fall sports pre-seasons. When exercising in the extreme heat it is important to replenish fluids, electrolytes and salt. Many sports drinks and energy gels can effectively restore this balance but it is important to use these with care.
While having a sports drink to replenish electrolytes can help in the heat, these high sugar, highly acidic beverages are not necessary for children and many adults. The combination of the acidity and the high level of sugar causes tooth enamel erosion. This is then compounded by dehydration which causes low levels of saliva in the mouth. Without a good amount of saliva to help wash the acid and sugars off the teeth, they sit, eroding the enamel and weakening your teeth.
Reach for the Water First … and After
Sports drinks and gels should be used in moderation and always with a good dose of water. Water is an essential nutrient for the body and when the body gets overheated water carries heat away from internal organs before any serious damage can occur. You should always begin exercise well hydrated and drink enough water that you do not feel thirsty. Sports drinks can be used as a supplement if you are exercising in extreme heat for more than an hour. Drinking water after an electrolyte supplement helps to rinse the mouth, removing sugar and acid from the teeth. Water will rehydrate your body faster, creating an environment that will allow the enamel to harden on the teeth again after the softening from high acidity.
If you feel you need to reach for something other than water to quench your thirst, consider drinks with a pH level higher than 5.5 or dilute sugary drinks and juices 50/50 with water. Water should be the main beverage you drink during exercise and on extremely hot days.
A good way to make sure you hydrate enough during exercise in extreme heat or during intense workouts is to:
- Weigh yourself immediately before and after exercise – any immediate weight lost is water
- Drink 3 cups of water for every pound lost to prevent dehydration.
- This is now a guide of how much water you need during your workouts.