Q I started drinking vitamin-enhanced water when I work out. My training partner says plain water hydrates better, but don’t the electrolytes in mine make it a better choice?
A Even mild dehydration can lead to fatigue and muscle cramping, so it’s important for bodybuilders to drink at least a gallon of water a day. Working out increases that need since water leaves the body in the form of perspiration. Electrolytes–salts that give cells power to carry impulses to other cells–are lost through sweat. Electrolytes must be replenished to keep their concentrations in body fluids constant.
Although “enhanced” and “vitamin-enhanced” waters promise better hydration than plain water, the amount of electrolytes in them can be negligible. If the levels of electrolytes are not revealed on the label, it’s likely they don’t contain a significant amount. These drinks are also often loaded with sugar and calories.
With only 10 per eight-ounce serving (about three servings per bottle), Propel Fitness Water is fairly light on calories. Glaceau Vitaminwater, on the other hand, packs 40 calories per eight-ounce serving. Down a 20-ounce bottle, and you’ve just taken in 100 calories! Among other vitamins and minerals, Propel contains the electrolytes sodium citrate and potassium citrate, and Glaceau Vitaminwater contains calcium, magnesium and potassium, which are also electrolytes.
The right choice for hydration boils down to your taste preferences and how many calories you can afford to take in. If you can’t stand plain water, drink a flavored version. If flavoring helps you take in more fluids, it’s probably worth a few extra calories. Besides, it’s OK to consume simple sugars around the time you train. As for electrolytes, enhanced and vitamin-enhanced water will fulfill a bodybuilder’s postworkout needs a bit more than plain water.
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Take advantage of the snack bars at your local gym to get in your postworkout nutrition. Protein shakes can be expensive, but often a gym will let you keep your own protein mix at the counter and they’ll blend a shake for you at a nominal charge.
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