Rehydrate! Water, Coconut Water or Sports Drinks?

Friday, July 11, 2014 12:55 PM comments (0)

rehydrateIt’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day but it’s especially important to replenish your body with fluids after exercise, particularly after periods of intense physical activity or exercise performed in high temperatures. But what’s the best way to hydrate? 

Water might seem like the obvious rehydration choice but there are other options. Patrick Birmingham, MD, Sports Medicine at NorthShore, discusses the pros and cons of some after-exercise rehydration options:

Water. Every system of the human body requires water to function, so when you exercise and lose water by perspiring, you need to replenish what you lost. On average, every individual needs to consume approximately 1.9 liters of water a day but this amount increases when you factor in exercise, especially high-intensity exercise. 

Pros: Unlike some sports drinks and coconut water, there are no calories in water so you won’t undo any of the good accomplished during your workout. After short, moderate workouts, water should be sufficient for rehydration. 

Cons: After intense workouts lasting more than an hour, your body loses not just water but important electrolytes like sodium and potassium, and these electrolytes will need to be replenished too. In this situation, water might not cut it. 

Coconut water. Coconut water is all the rage but is this “natural” source any better than a bottle of water or a sports drink when it comes to rehydration after a workout?

Pros: Depending on the brand, coconut water has fewer calories, less sodium and more potassium than the typical sports drink. Generally, it also has no added colors and only natural flavors (from other juices, for instance). 

Cons: After an intense workout, the most important electrolyte you need to replenish is sodium. Coconut water has less sodium than most sports drinks, which means it might not be able to do the heavy lifting after a particularly intense workout. Some coconut waters are enhanced with extra sodium but that can alter the flavor and make consumption less pleasant.

Sports drinks. Most popular sports drinks provide approximately 13-19 grams of carbohydrates and between 80-120 milligrams of sodium.

Pros: Sports drinks are made especially to replace the electrolytes you lose during long, arduous workouts, so they should be your go-to source on high-intensity days. The tasty flavors mean you’re likely to consume enough when you need it most. Pediatric rehydration mixtures like Pedialyte are also a great option. They have just the right combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates with less sugar. 

Cons: Many sports drinks have added artificial flavors, colors and unnecessary sugars. Make sure to check for lower-calorie versions so you aren’t undoing all your hard work at the end of your workout.

All summer long, NorthShore will be at athletic events in the community to help you find out how you can Unleash Your Inner Athlete. Come to the NorthShore tent and enter to win free entry into upcoming summer races and/or a grand price of a personal activity monitor. For a schedule of events where you can find NorthShore, click here

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Fire up the Grill: Quick Tips for Grilling Safely

Thursday, May 22, 2014 4:31 PM comments (0)

Grilling SafetyIt's finally time to get that grill out of the garage and enjoy the sunshine and warmer temperatures with your friends and family. Enjoy it but it's also important you doing so with safety in mind. Jerry Leikin, MD, Medical Toxicologist at NorthShore, offers the following instructions for ensuring you are observing proper food preparation and grill safety:

  • Check the temperature. Most meats (including poultry, ground beef and pork) should be cooked to 160-165 degrees. Depending on how well done you like your steak, temperatures can vary. If it’s pink, chances are it might not be completely done.
  • Exercise proper food handling to avoid contamination. Keep all food and surfaces clean. Don’t reuse plates or utensils that have been in contact with raw meats or meat juices.
  • Dress the part. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing around an open flame; it could catch fire and spread quickly. It's also a good idea to wear closed-toed shoes around hot coals and burning wood. If you’re worried about stains, then keep that grilling apron on.
  • Use your grill strictly outdoors. Grills should not be used indoors or in enclosed areas (including your garage), as they release carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases. Keeping your grill in the open air may also reduce the chances of unwanted fire.
  • Keep gas and other flammable materials away from the grill. These items should not be located near your grill at any time as they increase the risk of fire.
  • Watch your kids. Grills heat up fast and the last thing you want is for someone to get burned or hurt right before mealtime. Make sure you warn your kids about the dangers of a grill and don’t let them get too close.
  • Stay hydrated. When the grill and temperatures are hot, you want to be sure you are getting enough fluids to avoid any heat-related illnesses.

What are some of your favorite healthy foods to grill?

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Proper Hydration Is Key for Endurance Athletes

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 3:40 PM comments (0)

Proper-HydrationWhether you’re training for a big race or involved in minimal daily physical activity, drinking water is essential to keeping your body hydrated and healthy. For most people the recommendation is to drink eight glasses of water. However, if you are an endurance athlete training for a marathon or triathlon, this amount of water may not be sufficient to refuel your body.

Brian Shortal, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, marathoner and triathlete, gives his advice on what endurance athletes can do to stay properly hydrated:

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after a workout. Measure your weight before and after a workout to determine how much fluid you’ll need to rehydrate. (Remember: A loss of two pounds is the equivalent of one liter of fluid).
  • Replenish your electrolytes. When you sweat, your body loses sodium, calcium, potassium and other important minerals. Drinking just water after an intense workout won’t help replenish these electrolytes. A sports drink, such as Gatorade, or coconut water will help. Check out a side-by-side comparison of the two beverages.  

To view tips on how to train for a race in the summer heat—including avoiding certain times, monitoring your weight and urine—view our previous post.

What do you drink to stay hydrated after a strenuous workout?

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Summer Safety – Stay Healthy this Season

Monday, June 18, 2012 10:24 AM comments (0)

Summer-SafetySummer is a great time to be outdoors and to take advantage of the weather. With the temperature changes and increased sunshine, come some summer safety concerns.

Julie Holland, MD, a pediatrician at NorthShore, shares a few quick tips on how you can ensure your family stays safe this summer:

  • Wear sunscreen. Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors and reapply it frequently while outside.  Use a sunscreen that has both UV-A and UV-B protection, and an SPF 30 or more.  Children under 6 months should stay out of the sun.
  • Stay hydrated. It is important to drink enough fluid to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. Be sure to drink plenty of water before going outdoors and drink fluids while outdoors, especially if you are exercising.   As a general rule, water is the best fluid to drink.
  • Know your plants. Nothing ruins summer fun like the itchy and uncomfortable rash of poison ivy!  As a general rule of thumb, avoid eating berries or fruits you may find in the woods and be sure to avoid plants, such as poison ivy and oak. These plants typically have three leaves (“leaves of three, let them be”) and may have a red tint to them in the spring.
  • Avoid insect bites and stings.  Mosquitoes, bees and ticks are best avoided as well. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk.  Long-sleeved tops and long pants protect skin from mosquito and tick bites. Repellents containing DEET are also effective at reducing bites and mosquito netting can be purchased to protect infants outside.  Bee stings can be reduced by limiting use of perfume, avoiding bright colors and floral patterns, and keeping food (especially sweets and fruits) covered.
  • Wear a helmet. Summer is a great time to be more active, which may include biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, etc. Be sure to protect your head during these activities and wear a helmet. Remember that Moms and Dads need helmets as well as kids!

What do you do to keep your family safe and healthy during the summer? What are some of your favorite family activities?

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