Water is not enough

Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal

When you’re exercising hard and desperately need a drink, it’s natural to head for the nearest bottle of water. But although it’ll quench your thirst, it isn’t always the best way to rehydrate your body during or after endurance training and prolonged exercise. Here’s why:

  • Water doesn’t have adequate sodium and carbohydrates.4,7,9,10-16, 19-20, 26
  • Water doesn’t have flavour to drive the desire to drink and shuts down the thirst receptors prematurely, before you’ve replaced the fluid your body has lost through sweat.1-,3,9,12,20,21,25
  • Water doesn’t have the performance benefits of a sports drink. 5,6,8,12-16,20-25

Sports drinks contain sodium. Along with carbohydrate, it helps your body absorb fluid more effectively during prolonged exercise or endurance training.

Sports drinks are specially formulated to replenish both fuel and sodium needs to help you sustain your peak physical performance during training and endurance sports and exercise.

References
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  • 3Hubbard RW, Sandick BL, et al. Voluntary dehydration and alliesthesia for water, J Appl Physiol 1984; 57:868-875
  • 4Coyle EF, Fluid And Fuel Intake During Exercise. J Sports Sci 2004; 22:39–55
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  • 6Shi X, Passe DH (2010). Water and solute absorption from carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions in the human proximal small intestine: a review and statistical analysis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. Oct;20(5):427-42
  • 7Jeukendrup AE. (2004) Carbohydrate intake during exercise and performance Nutrition. Jul-Aug;20(7-8):669-77
  • 8Jentjens RL, Underwood K, Achten J, Currell K, Mann CH, Jeukendrup AE. (2006) Exogenous carbohydrate oxidation rates are elevated after combined ingestion of glucose and fructose during exercise in the heat J Appl Physiol. Mar;100(3):807-16. Epub 2005 Nov 10
  • 9S J Montain, S N Cheuvront, M N Sawka (2006) Exercise associated hyponatraemia: quantitative analysis to understand the aetiology Br J Sports Med;40:98–106
  • 10Maughan RJ and Shirreffs SM. Formulating sports drinks. Chemistry and Industry. 28-32, January 19, 1998
  • 11Maughan RJ, Fenn CE, and Leiper JB. Effects of fluid, electrolyte and substrate ingestion on endurance capacity. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 58:481-486, 1989
  • 12Maughan RJ, Leiper JB (1993) Post exercise rehydration in man: effects of voluntary intake of four different beverages. Med Sci Sports Exerc 25:1358–1364
  • 13Maughan RJ, Leiper JB (1995) Sodium intake and post-exercise rehydration in man. Eur J Appl Physiol 71:311–319
  • 14Maughan RJ, Leiper JB, Shirreffs SM (1996) Restoration of fluid balance after exercise-induced dehydration: effects of food and fluid intake. Eur J Appl Physiol 73:317–325 Eur J Appl Physiol (2008) 103:585–594 593
  • 15Maughan RJ, Merson SJ, Broad NP, Shirreffs SM (2004) Fluid and electrolyte intake and loss in elite soccer players during training. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 14:333–346
  • 16Maughan RJ, Shirreffs SM, and Leiper JB. Rehydration and recovery after exercise. Sport Sci. Exch. 9:1-5, 1996
  • 17Shirreffs SM, Maughan RJ (1998) Volume repletion after exercise induced volume depletion in humans: replacement of water and sodium losses. Am J Physiol 274:F868–F875
  • 18Shirreffs SM, Maughan RJ. Whole body sweat collection in man: an improved method with some preliminary data on electrolyte composition. J Appl Physiol 1997a;82:336–41
  • 19Shirreffs SM, Taylor AJ, Leiper JB, Maughan RJ (1996) Post-exercise rehydration in man: effects of volume consumed and drink sodium content. Med Sci Sports Exerc 28:1260–1271
  • 20S. M. Shirreffs, Hydration in sport and exercise: water, sports drinks and other drinks, Nutrition Bulletin (2009) Volume 34, Issue 4, pages 374–379
  • 21Shirreffs SM, Argon-Vargas LF, Keil M, Love TD, Phillips S. (2007) Rehydration after exercise in the heat: a comparison of 4 commonly used drinks. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab 17: 244-258
  • 22Sawka MN, Burke LM, Eichner ER, Maughan RJ, Montain SJ, Stachenfeld NS.(2007)American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. Med Sci Sports Exerc.;39:377-390
  • 23Below RP, Mora-Rodriguez R, Gonzalez-Alonso J, Coyle EF. (1995) Fluid and carbohydrate ingestion independently improve performance during 1h of intense exercise. Med. Sci. SportsExerc. 27: 200-210
  • 24Maughan RJ (2001) Sports drinks before, during and after running. In: Tunstall Pedoe D (Ed)Marathon Medicine, Royal Society of Medicine Press, London. pp 147-158
  • 25Maughan RJ and Murray R. (2002) Sports Drinks: Basic Science and Practical Aspects. CRC Press LLC, Boca Ranton, FL, USA
  • 26Vrijens, D.M., and Rehrer, N.J. (1999) Sodium-free fluid ingestion decreases plasma sodium during exercise in the heat. J. Appl. Physiol. 86:1847-851

This information is not medical advice and should not replace consultation with your health care provider or nutritionist before starting a new exercise program or eating plan.