June 21, 2010

Water vs. Gatorade (or some-other electrolyte drink)

So.... I figured I would share some more of what I am learning every second of every day, maybe it's not interesting to anyone but me, but maybe not.  I am going to try to apply real-life scenarios that are applicable to you and I vs. just telling you the science behind everything.

So, have you ever wondered why athletes who overexert themselves have often passed out or even died after "cooling down" or drinking water after an "extreme (I mean a very hard)" work-out?

To start at the beginning your plasma salt concentration is mediated by two main processes: 1. antidiuretic hormone release (from the pituitary gland) and 2. THIRST.  It is absolutely essential that we drink enough fluid, so we can maintain the volume of our cells (in particular our brain - 85% water). The status of your hydration is accurately measured and managed by SALT concentrations.  When an individual/athlete exercises vigorously they sweat, and sweat has salt in it (if you lick your sweat it tastes salty- mmmmmm!). So when you loose lots and lots of salt, it throws your water balance off, and because salt is what keeps water in the blood stream, when salt leaves (via sweat),the water goes into your tissues; In particular your BRAIN. your brain SWELLS!

so to get to the first question; if you were to replenish your fluids with water (which does not have any electrolytes/salt...) you would only increase the swelling of the brain. Your body needs a drink that has electrolytes in it such as salt and others...which would pull the fluid OUT of your brain, back into your blood and eventually you PEE!

So, normally I ALWAYS advocate for people to drink MORE water because we are all walking around with a brain functioning at 75% instead of 100% because most of us are all dehydrated. BUT in the case of extreme workouts, especially if you are sweating a lot and especially if you are doing them consistently, I advocate for GATORADE or a good all-natural alternative coconut water (which is naturally high in electrolytes, without added sugar).

(don't go crazy thinking your brain is swelling every time you work out, just be concious of extreme workouts such as Bikram Yoga etc... that cause excessive sweating) & DON'T GO EATING A LOT OF SALT, BECAUSE EXCESS SALT CAUSES A HOST OF PROBLEMS, JUST STICK TO H2O AND GATORADE ETC...

BTW this is WHY Gatorade was invented in Florida for their football team!  Because they were passing out too much!


Anonymous said...

I loved this again its nice to know that I should be drinking gatorade only during certain types of workouts or when I am sweating a LOT. I also like that you can drink coconut water I will have to try that!

Heilit and Matthew Biehl said...

Okay Mahoney - i'm sold on your blog! I love all the fascinating tips you share with us. I feel so educated and everything you share is so practical :) I am actually referring your blog to a friend of mine here in Florida who's just starting PA school because you're that great.

Renae said...

Very interesting! I thought at the beginning of the post that you were going to say those drinks were bad. I'm glad to hear that they are good! I love the knowledge that you have been sharing.


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