Can athletes take water during a competition?” asked the friend.
“Water is the still the best fluid replacement before, during and after the exercise or game,” dad answered.
“Then why do we have sports drinks?” asked the friend.
“That is a different question. The idea of a sport drink is to increase the absorption of water and other essentials like carbohydrates or amino acids and maintain hydration in spite of the weather conditions,” dad replied.
“How does weather affect absorption of water,” the friend was curious.
“Weather does not affect the absorption. In a hot and humid weather condition, especially if the humidity is above 70-80 per cent, sweating forces the hydration to drop. Hence athletes have to increase their water replacement,” said dad.
“Can the temperature of the water alter the absorption,” friend asked.
“Definitely! The temperature plays a major role. The warmer the water, it stays in the stomach longer and may also cause gastric embarrassment. Whenever the player is moving or jumping, he or she would find the water splashing inside the stomach uncomfortable. Cool water is ideal for absorption of water. Any addition into the water delays its absorption,” dad responded.
“You just said that sports drinks are fine. Then you say any addition to the water would delay its absorption. You seem to be contradicting yourself,” the friend commented.
“Water is the best, but some commercial products would be added in a higher concentration that would delay the absorption. Anxious mothers think that if they add a lot of glucose in the drink, it would benefit the child. It has been found that fructose at the concentration of 2 per cent and glucose polymers in the form of maltodextrin would almost absorb similar to water. The benefits of these substances have been taken into consideration and the scientific world agrees to accept very mild absorption delay and considers it as negligible,” dad clarified.
“That means a low concentration in fluids is ideal for a fluid replacement drink,” friend asked.
“Yes, the concentration has to be less than 7 per cent and not more. That also depends on the substances that are added. Dr Mark Davis from the University of South Carolina has proven that glucose, fructose and maltodextrin are almost absorbed similarly. Fructose does not cause the insulin levels to go up. This is essential during training or competition. It is also much better in replacing stored glucose in the liver,” dad said.
“How does aeration affect the absorption? The fizz usually feels good,” the friend asked.
“People who watch the match can take it. The players would find their stomach filled with the air that is released and it would disturb the performance. If the sugar added in a fluid is large in quantity, it only tastes good for the moment. It would also reduce the urge to drink more water when the hydration is actually happening,” dad added.
“Can the athlete increase hydration before the game,” the friend asked.
“That is ideal. Replacing about 200-500ml of fluid two hours before the competition and another 100ml just before the training or competition commences, would be an excellent idea. It is essential to sip water and not gulp it down the throat. This would also assist the absorption. The longer the race, the more the requirement of fluid replacement,” dad said.
“How much can dehydration affect the performance,” the friend asked.
“A study done on marathon runners, who were running the race at the time of two hours and 30 minutes approx, showed that they were able to run at three hours and 30 minutes. That is going to be a major crash for the athlete. The body can never learn to adapt to dehydration. Hence it is better to avoid dehydration during training or competition,” dad concluded