The Importance of Hydration and Nutrient Replenishment
We must all remember the importance of keeping our bodies hydrated each and every day! According to a Report on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans1 released in 2010 by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), adults ages 19-30 should aim to ingest about 9-13 cups of fluid, mainly water, on a daily basis. Hydration is important! Read on to learn the importance of hydration and nutrient replenishment for your fitness and overall well being.
In addition to what we drink, the foods we eat contribute to our overall fluid intake each day. The fruits and vegetables that you eat make up the bulk of high water content obtained from foods. Fruits and vegetables with high quantities of water include berries, apples, melons, tomatoes and cucumbers. Even with the added water supplied to our bodies through foods, the majority of us are still falling short when it comes to meeting the dietary recommendations for total water intake. Hydration plays a significant role in one’s ability to participate in physical activity. To maintain their performance, athletes must monitor their levels of fluid intake before, during and after their practice or event.
When it comes to the recovery period following exercise, we should all focus on these four elements:
- Rehydrating due to water loss during exercise
- Replenishing sodium and other electrolytes (potassium, calcium, etc.)
- Consuming carbohydrates to restore muscle glycogen
- Consuming protein to build and repair skeletal muscle
Athletes are encouraged to develop an individualized recovery plan that best meets their needs. The intensity and duration of workouts can vary tremendously, and the amount of fluid lost by one athlete can be quite different than that lost by another athlete. Our levels of physical activity play a defining role in determining the amount of fluids we should be ingesting on a regular basis.
Here are three helpful tips to get the fluids and nutrients you need after your workout:
Water is the number one drink that you should utilize to provide hydration for your body. Sufficient water intake is an essential component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention2, water is crucial for protecting our vital organs and tissues, maintaining our bodies’ internal temperatures, and regulating waste. Oftentimes, we fall victim to a variety of sugary and nutrient-deficient drink options available at our local stores to fulfill our thirst. These include drinks such as lemonade, soda and fruit juices filled with added sugars. As a result, we find ourselves replenishing our bodies with excess sugars and calories that we don’t need. Stick with water, plain and simple. It’s all you really need.
Electrolytes are the minerals present within our blood and other bodily fluids that affect our blood pH levels, the mobility of our muscles, and help regulate our bodies’ total water content. Some common electrolytes are sodium, potassium, and calcium. Every time we sweat, our bodies lose vital electrolytes. You can replenish necessary electrolyte levels by eating certain foods.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines For Americans3, having a banana post-workout can provide one’s body with around 422 mg of potassium. Potassium plays a vital role in regulating blood pressure, and a higher intake of potassium has the potential to decrease bone loss as we age. One medium sweet potato provides potassium as well, with 542 mg each. A half-cup of cooked spinach supplies around 370-419 mg of potassium.
Sodium is another important electrolyte that we should all pay careful attention to when it comes to refueling our bodies. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines For Americans, current sodium intake for the majority of American adults exceeds the tolerable upper intake level of 2,400 mg. This is mainly the result of consuming highly processed and prepared foods.
However, it is crucial that our bodies are supplied with adequate amounts of sodium within the recommended range post-workout. This can be achieved through drinking a refreshing glass of coconut water that has no added sugars and provides our bodies with healthy levels of sodium and potassium. Avoid heavily processed sports drinks, which often contain excessive amounts of added sugars and a larger proportion of sodium than necessary for recovery.
After participating in physical activity, our bodies are faced with the task of replenishing the energy we have lost. Thus, it is essential that we look to high-quality food options to prevent our bodies from breaking down our own muscles for energy. To help with muscle recovery and synthesis, drink a glass of chocolate milk spiced up with a scoop of Nuzest’s Rich Chocolate Clean Lean Protein or eat foods such as Greek yogurt to supply your body with adequate calcium and high-quality protein. You could also whip up a nutrient-dense smoothie using Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein! Overall, post-workout hydration and nutrient replenishment should consist of foods and drinks that refuel your body with the proper balance of nutrients. Before grabbing that 16 fl oz. coke from the vending machine, consider some of the other, more nutritious options available for rehydrating your body. You’re worth it!