Hydration is extremely important to any athlete. An adult males body is made up of about 60% water. Water helps to keep your body at a regular temperature, and it helps transport nutrients to give you energy while you exercise. However, hydration does not only consist of water. While water is a very important factor, sports drinks such as Gatorade and a new favorite, BodyArmor are equally as important. Sports drinks are key to hydration because they contain sodium. Sodium causes muscle contractions, allowing an athlete to perform to their fullest ability. Without sodium, and only water, a person can experience a severe condition known as hyponatremia (low sodium).
Another important factor of sports drinks is the sugar they contain. Sugar gives the body energy, and also causes you to drink more water, limiting the chance of dehydration. Accompanying sugar in sports drinks is a mineral called potassium. Most people know that potassium is good at eliminating cramps and is why you are told to eat a banana if you are experiencing cramping. But most people do not know why potassium is so important to your body. It helps regulate fluid balance and muscle contractions in your body just like sodium does.
Potassium and sodium are both electrolytes. When these two are at adequate levels, they create optimal muscle contractions. This means your muscles are working efficiently, and with the right amount of nutrients. This is why they do not cramp. However, without enough of both electrolytes, it can lead to deficiencies or other health conditions, such as heart arrhythmias and fainting.
As you can see, hydration is key to any athlete no matter your age or physical condition. If you are partaking in physical activity then you must make sure you are properly hydrated. But now you wonder what is the right balance between sports drinks and water. A commonly thought ration is two 16oz bottles of water to one sports drink. This ensures maximal hydration.