Whether you’re working out at home or at the gym, or are prepared for a day of hiking out in the woods, it’s important that you have the best hydration drink to stay hydrated. In fact, even if you’re just staying home and engaging in work around the house like vacuuming or gardening, staying hydrated is essential for the normal functioning of the body’s processes.
Dehydration can come quickly, and you won’t start to feel the effects of it until you’re already suffering from it. Bringing a hydration drink with you will help you overcome those terrible side effects and stay energized so you can keep going.
When it comes to hydration drinks, there are plenty of products on the market that all do the same thing in different ways. Also, there are a few easy recipes for making the best drink for hydration in your very own home. Today, we’ll discuss how these products work and show you how you can make some of the most delicious hydration drinks on your own.
Symptoms of Dehydration
You won’t know how dehydrated you really are if you don’t know what symptoms to look for. They can range from mild and moderate, to very severe, meaning that you may require hospitalization in order to prevent further damage from occurring to your major organs. Your organs require fluids in order to function, and if they can’t get sufficient amounts, they’re not going to work properly.
The mild to moderate symptoms include a dry and sticky mouth, sleepiness, thirst, dry skin, decreased output of urine, headache and dizziness. Severe symptoms include extreme thirst, very dry mouth and skin, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, rapid breathing, fever, and rapid heartbeat. Thirst is not always a good gauge for how dehydrated you are, so look at the color of your urine: extremely dark urine is a sign of dehydration, while pale urine means you have sufficient fluids in your system.
Isn’t Water Best?
They always say that you should always drink water before, during and after a workout, but it’s actually not the best hydration drink out there. It may quench your thirst, sure, but that’s all it does. After a hard workout or a long hike, your body requires what is called electrolytes for energy, and you’re not going to get that from plain old water.
The reason that hydration drinks work better than water is because of the osmolality of the fluid. This refers to the concentration of dissolved particles in the substance (such as minerals and certain carbohydrates), and that makes them easier to absorb in the stomach when they “match” that of the other bodily fluids, such as blood.
It’s not made up of just water, which is why H2O doesn’t do the job as well as hydration drinks.
Another benefit of hydration drinks is that they contain some amount of salt, which naturally makes the body crave more fluids. This will cause you to drink even more so that you’re optimizing your hydration levels.
Not All Hydration Drinks Are The Same
With the plethora of products on the market, it can be confusing to figure out which is the best hydration drink to go with. Different ingredients are used in order to combat thirst, but they don’t all work in the same way.
Some may contain higher amounts of sodium than others so that the fluids can be absorbed more quickly by the gut. Some drinks add protein, which not only aids in absorption, but also aids in fluid retention, meaning that you’re less likely to get thirsty after working out for the same amount of time.
Fluids that are too dilute won’t be digested as much, and will be sent straight to the bladder, resulting in a waste of fluids and hydration. This essential protein is also beneficial to those who are looking to build muscle in their workout routines.
Different Kinds of Hydration Drinks
Because of the differences mentioned above, it’s important to know how each of these drinks works so that you know how to get the most out of them. All of these fluids do have a hydration property, so that the higher the percentage is, the more hydrated your body is going to be.
Don’t buy into the fads of miracle hydration drinks that beat the competition. It’s likely that they may excel in one area, but not be as good in others.
- Electrolyte Drink: as you sweat while engaging in light activities, you lose electrolytes through sweat. These are ionized particles that are found in sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium, for example, that provide the body with energy. These are already found in natural fruit juices and honey, which makes them the best drinks for hydration that you can make in your own home. This is the best drink to have after doing light exercise, such as walking or working in your garden. They’re not very suitable for very intense workouts.
- Fitness/Designer Water: these are relatively new to the market, and also a bit more expensive than the other products that have been there for much longer. They’re a halfway point between regular water and sports drinks, allowing you to stay hydrated without all of that salt content. They have fewer nutrients and electrolytes in them, but have a flavor that makes them appealing to drink.
They do provide hydration, but they’re not the best thing for heavy workouts or routines. They’re good for carrying around with you when you’re walking around the city or going to the grocery store.
- Sports Drink: these drinks are filled with sodium and carbohydrates in order to provide you with a quick source of energy that you can utilize when you’re engaged in sports or heavier workouts. Looking at the salt content is important, as anything that as more than 500 mg will cause the body to start pulling water from the bloodstream instead to help digest the minerals. This will cause you to be even thirstier, leaving you stuck in an endless cycle of drinking. If you find yourself being incredibly thirsty after a sports drink, consider some water instead to dilute the salt content. It’s also a good idea to avoid sports drinks that are carbonated, as they will lead to discomfort while you’re exercising.
- Hydration Tablets: hydration tablets are also a new product on the market, and they’re already packed with the nutrients, vitamins and electrolytes that you’ll need. Just drop one in a bottle of water and shake, and you’ll have a hydration drink that keeps you hydrated.
Alternatively, you can take the tablets straight to get the same effect, though it may take a bit longer for the body to digest. This is a great resource for those who can’t afford sports drinks or don’t have immediate access to water. These hydration tablets also don’t have any calories, which is good for those who are very conscientious about counting their calories.
Now that you know how these all work, you can adequately prepare which drink should be taken with you, depending on the level of activity you’re going to be engaged in. But suppose you don’t have time to run to the store, or you want to save a bit of cash?
There are plenty of ways to get the same hydration on a smaller income, and that involves making your own hydration drinks. Don’t worry about complicated recipes that require weird equipment and ingredients you can’t find in the store.
Making Your Own Hydration Drink
You’d be surprised that what you need to make a hydration drink is probably already in your fridge. All citrus fruits, for example, contain electrolytes, so they’re perfect for including in any drink you want to make. Simply add them to your water and you’re ready to go.
If you’re looking for low-calorie options, then using lemons, limes or grapefruits will help you achieve hydration and keep those pounds off. Keep in mind that freshly squeezed juices are much better than buying juice from the store, which has added sugar.
Honey is also a beneficial ingredient to include, as it has simple sugars, a lot of minerals, and helps to regulate your cortisol levels. During heavy workouts, cortisol as a result of stress tends to spike, which makes it harder for the body to lose weight.
But with some honey, you can keep these levels regulated and make it easier for you to shed those pounds. Honey is also a rich antioxidant, which reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Lastly, salt is important because it contains plenty of minerals that the body needs. Go for more natural sources of salt, such as sea salt or Himalayan. Table salt is too processed and doesn’t have any nutrients whatsoever.
Here are just a few recipes you can try in your own home to start you on your way to staying hydrated.
- Orange Twist Sports Drink: 3-4 cups of water, 3/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup.
- Lemon Sports Drink: 4 cups water, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 cup honey (or more for flavor).
- Coconut and Lime Sports Drink: 3 cups coconut water, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup lime juice, 1/4 tsp. sea salt, 2 tbsp. honey or maple syrup.
- Coconut and Strawberry Smoothie: 3 cups coconut water, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup water, 1 cup ice, 1/8 tsp sea salt, 2 tbsp honey. Blend until smooth.
- Ginger Electrolyte Sports Drink: 2 cups ginger water, 4 cups water, juice of 3 lemons, 1/2 tsp sea salt, honey for taste. To make the ginger water, cut ginger root into coins and place in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and steep the ginger until cool. Store ginger water in an airtight container until it’s ready to be used.
- Cranberry Sports Drink: 3 cups unsweetened cranberry juice, 5 cups water, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 2 tbsp maple syrup.
- Watermelon Workout Drink: 1 cup cubed watermelon, 1 cup coconut water, splash of lime juice, pinch of sea salt.
- Strawberry Infused Sports Drink: 3 cups hot water, 1/2 cup orange juice, juice of one lemon, 2 tbsp honey, 1/4 tsp natural salt, 1/2 container of sliced strawberries.
- Cherry Lemon Sports Drink: 1/3 cup of unsweetened cherry juice, 1/8 cup lemon juice, 2.5 tbsp honey, 3 1/2 cups water, 1/4 tsp natural salt.
- Citrus Coconut Sports Drink: 1 1/2 cups coconut water, 1/2 tsp coconut oil, 1 1/2 tsp lime juice, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 medjool dates (stones removed), 1 1/2 tsp agave nectar, pinch of sea salt.
As you can see, these recipes are very easy to make, don’t take a lot of time, and you can make a large batch beforehand so that you can always have some hydration drink for when you need it. You can play around with any of these recipes to find the flavor that’s right for you, allowing you to exercise some creativity in what you put into your body.
Keep in mind that the recipes that include a lot of water in them are best used for light exercise instead of rigorous workouts, as you’ll shed the fluid much faster than you can absorb it. If you do intend to do some heavy exercise, then the ones that consist of natural fruit juices are best. And if you really want to maximize on the hydration levels, you can always invest in a container of protein powder at your local exercise store and add it to any of these drinks.
Now that you’ve seen what the basic components of hydration drinks are and how easy it is to make one yourself, which one will you try first? There are so many options out there that are nutritious as well as hydrating, allowing you to make a big supply out of a few simple ingredients. Feel free to share these recipes with your workout buddies, and see if they’ve come up with any unique recipes of their own.