In this hot weather I’ve seen a few more ads than normal promoting sports drinks which claim to hydrate you more than water.
These claims have always struck me as a bit cheeky – particularly as the drinks in question are usually packed with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and synthetic flavourings amongst other unhealthy ingredients!
How do sports drinks work?
Many sports or energy drinks, are also known as ‘isotonic’ drinks – and claim to have similar levels of salt, electrolytes and minerals to the human body.
Their manufacturers say they work by providing the essential minerals and energy lost during exercise that water alone cannot replace.
Last year the BBC’s Panorama investigated the claims of a leading sports drink and found that for the average person, there was no evidence to show that it improved exercise or performance.
While they may be good for hydration, the huge amounts of additives and sugar they also contain cancel out the effects of exercise unless you’re training at a professional level.
Not to mention the ageing and negative effects that that level of sugar’s going to have on your skin!
What’s the alternative?
Since most of us are not up there with Mo Farah in the fitness stakes, is plain old water not hydrating enough.
I caught up with nutritionist Madeleine Shaw to find out if any healthy drink really can hydrate you more effectively than water:
“Water should always be your primary source of hydration – aim to drink 2 litres a day.
Nothing can ever hydrate you as effectively as water, despite the claims they may make!
But there are a couple of things you can do to boost and prolong your hydration, particularly after exercise.
Coconut water is nature’s own, great-tasting ‘sports’ drink and an excellent source of hydration.
It contains naturally occurring potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorous and calcium, so works to replenish the electrolytes we lose when we sweat.
One of my favourite ways to hydrate is with Chia Seeds – these tiny seeds can hold 10-12 times their own weight in water!
They are also hydrophilic – meaning they prolong hydration and retain the electrolytes in our fluids. I love popping them in a bottle of water, or even almond milk and drinking throughout the day.
If you struggle to drink the recommended 2 litres of water a day, try mixing it up with a herbal tea or warm lemon water, which is great for digestion and wonderfully alkalizing for the body. ”