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Drinks containing electrolytes hydrate your body best during physical exertion.
You may have heard of the health benefits of drinking fluids and keeping your body adequately hydrated, but you may also feel confused about which beverages to drink, and how much. During regular activities, a glass of cold water quenches your body's needs for fluids faster than a room-temperature or hot beverage. But when you engage in sports or other activities that make you sweat for over an hour, a drink formulated to provide carbohydrates and replace your body's electrolytes hydrates you the most.
Hydration regulates your body temperature. Water lost through sweat during periods of physical exertion or hot air temperatures provides a cooling mechanism that helps your body achieve homeostasis, or a constant core temperature. Sweating without fluid replacement can lead to dehydration, a potentially life-threatening condition. In "The You Docs Tip of the Day: Finding the Secret of Proper Hydration," doctors Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz note that adequate hydration can help prevent many common ailments, such as constipation, heart disease, elevated blood glucose, exercise-induced asthma and mood problems.
During routine activities, water hydrates your body without adding calories or food additives to your diet. The National Academy of Sciences: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board recommends the consumption of 3.7 liters of water per day by adult men, and 2.7 liters per day by adult, non-pregnant females. Pregnant females should increase water intake to 3.0 liters per day, while lactating women should consume 3.8 liters of water each day.
Sweat contains electrolyes, such as sodium, chloride and potassium. During periods of low- to moderate-intensity exercise of less than an hour, electrolyte losses are not generally enough to cause concern. But during periods of moderate- to high-intensity exercise -- such as hot yoga or spinning -- when sessions last more than an hour, deplete electrolytes can lead to muscle weakness, twitching and spasms, along with nervous system disorders. Rehydration from excessive sweating requires more than water. Drinks that are 3 to 5 percent glucose or glucose-containing carbohydrates enhance water absorption, according to research conducted by R.J. Rehrer, reported in "Sports Medicine." The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the consumption of 3 to 8 ounces of a sports drink-type beverage containing carbohydrates and electrolytes every 15 to 20 minutes when you exercise longer than one hour.
Cold water is more palatable and helps cool your body faster than warm water. Furthermore, your stomach absorbs cold water -- which is at approximately 41 degrees -- more quickly than it absorbs warm water, making cold water better for hydration, according to Columbia University's question and answer Internet page, "Go Ask Alice."