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Hydration and Exercise

10/2/2013 11:26 AM

Around 60-70% of the human body is composed of water, so it's fair to say that water is vital for survival. It functions to keep our body temperature regulated, allows us to breathe, is essential in digestion and excretion, assists body movement, just to name a few!

Drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day is recommended, but during exercise or when in hot environments, we need to drink more, because we sweat more.

But is water enough? Or do you need a sports drink to stay properly hydrated?
Sports drinks will keep you well hydrated and give you energy if you're participating in high intensity exercise for more than an hour. However, if you're not exercising to this level, plain water will do just fine.

What defines a sports drink?
Sports drinks (sometimes called electrolyte or isotonic drinks) are developed to contain the right level of carbohydrates (5-8 g/litre) and electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium) to keep you well hydrated; replacing what is lost from the body during exercise.

Did you know...
Studies have shown as little as one percent dehydration can cause major changes in body temperature, while two percent dehydration will drop your performance levels significantly! So to operate efficiently it's crucial to keep your fluid levels up.

Other drinks that contain high amounts of carbohydrates stop water being absorbed quickly and therefore can delay hydration, so are not suitable before exercise.

So if you're doing a high intensity workout, choose a sports drink. But, if you're not working out to this intensity and drink them as part of your everyday routine you may end up putting on weight because of the extra carbohydrate content.

If you don't like the taste of plain water, add a slice of lemon, orange or a sprig of mint to give your water some flavour without adding the calories you'd get by using cordial.

Hydration tips for exercise

  • Make sure you're well hydrated before you exercise - start drinking approximately two hours before
  • Keep your fluids topped up during exercise
  • Always remember to re-hydrate after exercise – it's essential for recovery. Try to drink one to two glasses per hour until your urine is pale again


By David Heber, M.D., Ph.D.

Specific foods and lifestyle behaviors are associated with differing rates of weight gain in the U.S. population over time. Even people who are not obese often see that they seem to gain weight as they age. This landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine from the Harvard School of Public Heath by Dr. Frank Hu and colleagues (1) for the first time examines which specific dietary patterns and lifestyle behaviors were more or less associated with observed weight gain. The study analyzed data from three very large groups of subjects who completed questionnaires on their dietary habits and lifestyle behaviors, and included 120,877 healthy non-obese U.S. women and men. The periods of time examined were from 1986 to 2006, 1991 to 2003, and 1986 to 2006.

The relationships between changes in lifestyle factors and weight change were evaluated at 4-year intervals. Within each 4-year period, subjects gained an average of 3.35 lb. The 4-year weight change was most strongly associated with the intake of potato chips (1.69 lb), potatoes (1.28 lb), sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb), unprocessed red meats (0.95 lb) and processed meats (0.93 lb), and was inversely associated with the intake of vegetables (−0.22 lb), whole grains (−0.37 lb), fruits (−0.49 lb), nuts (−0.57 lb), and yogurts (−0.82 lb) (P≤0.005 for each comparison).

Other lifestyle factors were also independently associated with weight change (P<0.001), including physical activity (−1.76 lb across quintiles), alcohol use (0.41 lb per drink per day), smoking (new quitters, 5.17 lb; former smokers, 0.14 lb), sleep (more weight gain with <6 or >8 hours of sleep), and television watching (0.31 lb per hour per day).

The study was further validated by the fact that eating less of the foods associated with weight gain was related to less weight gain while eating less of the foods associated with weight loss was associated with weight gain. For the first time, this study has provided hard evidence for the effects of potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats on weight gain which were common knowledge among dieters and doctors, but were never confirmed in research studies. These findings should lead to more targeted approaches to dietary advice for preventing weight gain or even for incorporation into dietary programs to promote weight loss. A daily excess calorie balance of about 50 to 100 calories may be sufficient to cause the gradual weight gain seen in most persons. This means that unintended weight gain occurs easily, but also that modest, sustained changes in lifestyle could mitigate or reverse such an energy imbalance.

The results of this study suggest that both individual and population-based strategies to help people consume fewer calories may be most effective when particular foods and beverages are targeted for decreased (or increased) consumption. The observed dietary changes accounted for substantial differences in weight gain, with additional contributions from changes in physical activity and television watching, thus highlighting specific lifestyle changes that might be prioritized in obesity prevention strategies. These results fit well with other research showing that certain foods lead to overuse. The old advertisement “You can’t eat just one!” applied to potato chips may translate into more weight gain over time. 

(1). Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in diet and
lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011 Jun
23; 364(25):2392-404. 



Posted in Nutrition Health Articles By Guy Alony

It’s amazing how just a handful of small changes to everyday habits can add up to big rewards.  I’ve mentioned before that when someone tells me they’re ready for a major diet and lifestyle overhaul, I usually tell them to proceed with caution. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, when you try to make too many changes at once, you run the risk of …if you’ll excuse the pun… biting off more than you can chew. And, I think that once you’re successful at making a change – no matter how small – it gives you the confidence to keep going, and to keep chipping away at new challenges.  On top of that, just a handful of small changes to your everyday habits can add up to bigger reward than you might think. 

 Here’s a way to look at it.  Think of the changes you’re going to make in your lifestyle as an investment.  You could rely on an aggressive strategy that might give you quick rewards – but there’s also a high risk that it won’t.  On the other hand, you could ‘diversify’ – and use blend of strategies that are more likely to give you the results you’re after, even though it may take a little longer.  So when you’re investing in your health for the long term, slow and steady usually wins the race.

When you take a closer look at the foods you routinely eat – and your everyday exercise patterns -  it’s amazing how a little fine tuning can add up to big rewards. Here are some recent changes I worked out with a patient of mine – enough to lead to the loss of 60 pounds in a year:

  • Add 20 extra minutes to daily exercise – could be an additional 20 minutes of brisk walking in the morning, or a second walk later in the day.  The extra 100 calories burned per day could equal 10 pounds less at the end of a year.
  • If your usual breakfast five days a week is a coffee drink and a bagel with cream cheese.  A switch to a protein shake will shave off about 250 calories a day – enough to drop more than 18 pounds in a year.
  • A healthy habit of eating salad about 7 times a week is a bit counterproductive if the greens are drenched in dressing.  Reduce salad dressing from three tablespoons to one will lead to savings of more than 1000 calories a week – and the loss of about 16 pounds in a year.
  • About three times a week, instead of having a candy bar as an afternoon pick-me-up, have a small protein bar and a cup of tea instead. You could be cutting as much as 600 a week – enough to shed nearly 9 pounds in a year.
  • Sandwiches are eaten 5 times a week on average and always include a slice of cheese.  Lose the cheese and replace with veggies, and save 500 calories a week.  Another 7 pounds could be lost in a year with this one change.
  • Dessert is eaten six times a week – usually cookies or ice cream, to the tune of about 200 calories.  Swap for a piece of fruit, and cut enough calories to lose another 10 pounds in a year.

Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.

Posted in Nutrition Health Articles By Guy Alony
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