Adequate hydration is one of the simplest, yet overlooked practices across your grueling workout and the hours that follow in recovery. Sure your intake of creatine, BCAA’s and protein are consumed like clockwork, but if you’re not staying properly hydrated, all of your hard work (and money) might as well go out the door. It’s all about maximizing that small window of time at the gym, in order to smash your boldest fitness goals. Here I explore the levels of hydration contained in some of the most widely consumed beverages on the planet.
The Beverage hydration index (BHI)
The BHI is a fairly new creation, one that was formed in order to ascertain the hydration levels of popular beverages. The calculations are based on test guinea pigs (ie humans) drinking 1L of water, then having their net urine output measured at 2 hours, and repeated again for each consecutive beverage listed on the chart.
Coca cola is more hydrating than water
Yes, you read that correctly. However, just like easily reaching your protein needs by way of juicy steak, many vegetarians will be quick to argue what’s coming along for the ride with that protein. Think heated debates about saturated fat and consequential heart disease.
It’s kind of the same when it comes to how you go about quenching your thirst, with the most hydrating beverages not necessarily being the healthiest. The energy density contained within a drink and electrolytes present, are two factors that seem to lift the BHI reading, however on the topic of Coca Cola and other sugary drinks:
On a larger scale, 40,000 men and their drinking habits were tracked over the span of two decades. Those who averaged just 1 can of sugary beverage per day, had a 20% higher risk of a heart attack than those who rarely indulged in them.
A study over a whopping 22-year period, followed 80,000 women who consumed a can a day, which left them 75% more susceptible to gout, than women who rarely consumed sugary beverages.
Unfortunately, sugar-sweetened fruit juice doesn’t stack up much better, with a significantly higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. So even though orange juice is more hydrating than water, and a great source of vitamin C, it should still be consumed in moderation, always opting for 100% pure content.
Is coffee bad for hydration?
While coffee does rate as the least hydrating of all the beverages featured on the BHI, you might be curious, does it actually have a dehydrating effect?
Notably, caffeine doesn’t have any detrimental effect to fluid balance. You’ve probably heard plenty of rumours that suggest otherwise, but they’re nothing but a myth! Coffee is regularly used as a performance-enhancer by many endurance athletes, and can also be used in combination with your workout routine to burn fat.
Why water should still be your primary source of hydration
Statistically speaking, you might be surprised that Coca Cola, milk and orange juice are all more hydrating than plain water. But would you really change your predominant source of fluids to any one of these options? The answer is I certainly hope not. I believe the healthiest option is undoubtedly water:
Your body is naturally comprised of around 60% water, so it makes sense to support and match nature with the intake of pure water, rather than a synthetic beverage with additives, sweeteners or preservatives.
You can drink water in abundance without a rising intake of sugar (synthetic or otherwise), calories, hormones or other unknown ingredients. You also won’t need to include yourself in the statistics for Type 2 Diabetes, heart attacks or gout!
In most developed regions around the world, water is cost-free and readily available.
I personally gulp down a heap of water during my workout. I wouldn’t be willing to trade that equivalent level in milk, orange juice or refreshing Coca Cola.
Water flushes toxins from your system, allowing the body to function optimally, banishing fatigue and boosting productivity, giving you that extra leverage to focus on a great workout and quicker recovery.
I think you’ll agree that feeling dehydrated sucks, especially when you know that so many systems within the body rely on adequate hydration. Choosing the right beverage to rehydrate with is so important for your overall health and fitness goals, especially when habits build over a long period of time- like that daily can of Cola! Make it your focus this week to up the ante on your H2O intakes.
Written by Shannon Davidson