In today’s chic world, those looking to make a statement at the gym put as much thought into their choice of workout beverage as they do exercise attire. Indeed, no longer are the water fountains provided acceptable as they are deemed a nuisance to walk to and/or wait for the bottle guy to fill his/her bottle. Not to mention the temperature of the water seems to vary from gym to gym as well as its quality. In short, beverages in hand at the gym are as common as texting during a movie.
But of what to drink? With so many choices available today, it’s easy to get lost along the way when attempting to make an educated decision concerning proper hydration in the gym. These classes of beverage can further be divided into juices, teas, coffees, diet sodas, sodas, energy drinks and plain old water.
Let’s break it down Hollis-style:
A. Juice – provides some antioxidants as well as instant energy in the form of natural sugar, followed by the crash, excess stored as adipose
B. Tea – specifically green tea has been shown to expedite the fat burning process, watch out for those teas rich in both sugar and caffeine as this may cause a dehydration effect
C. Coffee – in its black form minus sugar and dairy will help to promote fat loss but may cause a dehydration effect, best complimented with a meal prior to exercise
D. Diet Soda – low to zero sugar, sometimes high in other chemicals and caffeine, may cause stomach distress, cramping and dehydration
E. Soda – pure manufactured sugar, best consumed following one’s workout with whey protein to quickly expedite the muscle repair process
F. Energy Drinks – in both their sugar-laden and sugar-free states may help one power through workouts or other athletic endeavors WITH the addition, not substitution of food
G. WATER – BINGO!
While the best time of day for sugar intake is both during and after your workout to instantly replenish glycogen stores, since most of us seek aesthetic benefits in the gym versus strength and performance, I might suggest severely curtailing one’s intake of sugar to present a more fat-free physique. Time and time again I find many of my fellow gym-goers downing a high-fructose beverage DURING their cardio session, thusly replacing what they have already burned.
A word regarding sodium. Providing one is not suffering from high blood pressure, a little sodium found in many of these drinks is a given. Sodium’s function within the body is in maintaining normal blood pressure and function of the muscles and nerves. Excessive sodium is usually attributed to a bloated or puffed up appearance around the skin. Regular drinking of pure water will help to remove excessive sodium from the body.
But what exactly are the benefits in consuming water?
Staying hydrated during workouts is essential for it provides cardiac support (easier time pumping blood), increases fat metabolism (the more one drinks the more one flushes), increased energy (production of ADP – benefits muscle contraction) and increases overall performance (keeps us cool and replaces fluids lost through sweating.)
Water will always reign supreme in its natural state. While there remains an influx of many flavored waters, the majority of which are sweetened with sugar, these will boost performance due to the body’s release of insulin and then crash due to sugar’s short-term energy effects. During sport or any other such competitive means, these drinks may serve a purpose as immediate energy is required but athletes would do well to prepare for said event with a proper meal instead.
The same holds true for the flood of energy drinks on the market today. Caffeine and other such stimulants do serve their purpose and work well in conjunction with a meal but by themselves do not provide the sustained energy one needs to power through their workout, let alone their day. Think of the energy drink like a car running on fumes – not going to get very far, are you?
We’ve all heard the varying sayings regarding water intake. Too much is never enough, 8 glasses per day, etc. The rule of thumb is if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Remember too that the more water one takes in, the more waste one flushes out as well as achieving a feeling of satiety. Drink away!
Readers who enjoy my newsletters I thank you for allowing me to enlighten and hopefully entertain you on a regular basis. These works are 100 % penned by me and take me back to my days as a fitness editor for three magazines in my office in the Empire State Building.
For those of you in the Los Angeles area and unfamiliar with my services and have not worked with me before, I offer you a complimentary training session to be conducted at either The Fitness Factory in West Hollywood or my new locale, Gold’s Gym in Hollywood. This offer is good until June 2009. Summer is vastly approaching. Put in the work.
Empower yourselves to be better!