The Confusion About Hydration

I am being polite when I say that there is confusion about hydration. The less delicate among us might say that there has been a purposeful effort on behalf of the sport drink industry to spread misinformation about hydration. One of these “less delicate folks” is a fellow by the name of Dr. Tim Noakes

Dr. Noakes, who has a long and distinguished career as a researcher, educator, athlete, and author, has written a book titled, “Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports,” that exposes the hydration myths that have been created and spread by the sports drink industry. This book is a must-read for any athlete, recreational or otherwise, and for the parents of kids who participate in sports. The simple fact is that, as Dr. Noakes writes, “Dehydration is simply a reduction in the total body water content. The only symptom of dehydration is thirst, and often it is an overwhelming sense. If at any time a healthy athlete does not sense thirst, the athlete is not dehydrated. Period.” So, there is no need to drink on a rigid schedule that disregards the sense of thirst. The people most at risk for the dangers of over-hydration are recreational athletes, not elites. Furthermore, drinking more than thirst dictates does not improve performance, does not prevent cramps, and offers no benefits.

There really isn’t a heck of a lot more to say on the subject. Despite what the well-funded sport-drink industry says, dehydration isn’t a major problem that can only be solved by drinking bottles of their product before, during, and after activity. When it comes to keeping your kids hydrated for sports it is as simple as making sure that they have enough water to satisfy their thirst. You don’t need Gatorade, Powerade, or any other “ade.” Tell your kids to drink when they are thirsty and do not force them to drink just for the sake of doing so.


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