Staying hydrated is key to training at your optimum level
I am often asked what energy drinks/gels I use for endurance sport – especially for during very hot periods. I will share what I know and do (keeping this article short!!) - and then you can make a choice; trial and error, until you find something that works for you:
Firstly – Drinks/Sports Drinks fall into 3 categories:
1. Hypertonic – this can be your fruit juices and your fizzy pops! – generally they have more sugar/carbs in them than your blood glucose level, so these can dehydrate you further for a short period taking longer to get into your system, as the body requires to put water into the gut to bring it upto an equal level and then allow it to be absorbed back in.
2. Isotonic – when the balance of fluid to glucose is equal to the blood glucose level; therefore quickly absorbed into your system – quicker than just drinking plain water.
3. Hypotonic – less glucose than blood; however still absorbed quicker into the system than plain water itself.
Above I have only mentioned the carb/glucose level – of equal importance in very hot climates and during arduous events is the correct balance of electrolytes, to replace all those that have been lost through sweat. Plain water is not going to help and can aggrevate the problem. Expensive Sports drink mixes are going to have the correct balance of glucose, electrolytes, sodium and trace minerals etc.
Isotonic/electrolyte drink mixes have been issued to Brit soldiers on Operations since 2006 and are now part of 24hr ration packs.
When training for events I will make a 40/60 mix of Apple juice and water (1 liter) and add half a tea spoon of salt to it, making my own isotonic drink.
For actual events I will buy an expensive isotonic drink mix! (for when i can carry it).
If on a marathon i use SIS carb gels – they are isotonic and do not feel too gloopy in your mouth!! – I can then wash them down with a bit more gatorade on a water station – taking one every 25 mins
When on the Commando course in the middle of February in minus conditions – the amount I sweated when in the field was howling – when those around me where getting cramps, my Oppo and I stayed cramp free – all down to the fact that we were the only ones making the soups up out of our ration packs during daylight – and drinking them out of our flasks through the nights?
Additionally, I carried a small canoe sack in my top pocket filled with a mix of fruit & nut; something I learnt when living on 24hr ration packs for 4 months in Iraq, 2003.
I will finish with – Healthy balanced diet and hydrate before, during and after any physical activity!!
Sol Sollerer – WO2 (QMSI) MInstRE
British Commando Fitness