Starting to Get Fit: Hydration
Parents need to be fit, too. I’ve mentioned it before, the benefits of being fit for parents. Now it is time to get specific with details. Hydration and nutrition are the first steps. Nobody should ever begin a workout without first being properly hydrated. The reasons being are obvious; the higher our heart-rates the more heat we generate, and the more we sweat. Sweat is how the body cools itself. Therefore, if we try to workout dehydrated then our bodies won’t be able to cool down. And, we don’t just lose water when exercising. We also lose salts. Bodies use salts to prevent muscle cramping and to retain water during prolonged exercise. The salts a body needs before, during, and after a workouts are called electrolytes. Without them we can not “go the distance” thereby making any workout useless. The big question, then, is what drinks are the best for a fit lifestyle. I happen to know the answer to that. The drinks I suggest either promote weight loss, aid nutrition, or support hydration. There are, naturally, several caveats to my advice which I will mention as I go.
The experts say we need a lot of water every day. The formula is this: One’s body weight divided in half is the number of ounces of water we need daily. That is just a rough estimate that generally works. There are factors that increase or decrease that volume. Factors like altitude, breastfeeding, alcohol consumption and general humidity also affect the amount of water we need to consume. Use this calculator to get a precise answer. H2O is what we primarily need to keep our bodies going. All other drinks are to be included in the grand total of ounces consumed. When in doubt, drink water. It is no calorie fresh goodness. With prolonged exercise (over an hour) it is a good idea to take electrolytes with the water (or add them to the water in a bottle).
Green, White, Oolong or Black Tea
Tea is my primary source of hydration (mostly sencha and matcha to be specific). Tea is also packed full of antioxidant and amino acids which are known to help control environmental damage to our cells. There is also strong evidence that the chemical composition of tea helps people lose weight. There is much information on the benefits of tea that I do not have space to include. Follow this link for more: WebMD: Antioxidants in Green and Black Tea. Tea does contain caffeine (black tea and oolong more than green and white). Therefore pregnant women should avoid tea, and breastfeeding women should limit it. Too much caffeine can be detrimental to a baby’s early development. The caffeine content of most teas are less than half that of coffee. The other option are herbal “teas” (which aren’t technically teas because they don’t come from the tea plant).
Herbal tea is the alternative for pregnant and breastfeeding women. They come in many interesting varieties – flowery, spicy, and fruity. They can promote relaxation and digestive health depending on the specific blends. It’s always nice to have a beverage that is zero calories and that also does something good for one’s health. It’s cheaper than sports drinks and soda and infinitely more healthy. I recommend herbal infusions that do not use artificial flavors or coloring. All teas, herbal or green, should be done right. None of this cheap crap please. The difference in quality and taste is not small. And even the “expensive” stuff is cheaper than the swill found in the soda/sports-drink isle.
People who don’t drink milk are missing out on a healthy drink. Milk is a good source of calcium, carbohydrates, and protein. Protein aids in muscle repair, carbohydrates are the sugars that our bodies need to keep energy levels up, and calcium has been proven to aid in weight loss. Dieters and fitness buffs have long avoided milk because they believed it makes them fat. That is simply not the case. It is, in fact, a dieters best friend. However, there is one catch. High-fat milk negates the weight loss benefits provided by the calcium. 1% milk is a good compromise. It also makes for an excellent post workout drink when a little whey protein is mixed in.
Do Not Drink These Fluids
1. Sports drinks
Way too much sugar and not enough electrolytes. Gatorade Endurance Formula is the exception, but it is hard to find.
Do I really need to explain this? One soda a day adds up to 10 pounds a year in extra fat if not burned off. Keep that in mind.
A lot of people think that drinking Juice substitutes for actual fruit. It doesn’t. There is no fiber, too much sugar, and missing enzymes ( a result of the juicing process).
Way too much caffeine and not enough antioxidants. One cup a day never hurt, but don’t drink more than that.
Hydration is the first step to fitness. Proper hydration serves two purposes. It removes unnecessary calories from a persons diet while, in the case of milk, actually promotes weight loss. Good hydration also serves the more basic, and necessary, function of cooling our bodies. Consuming enough electrolytes and water during the day will ensure a more productive and safer workout. Some drinks like green tea are full of antioxidants (ECGC and theanine) which can help slow the course of aging and protect skin cells. There are also drinks to avoid. Anything with caffeine is a no-no for pregnant women (but can be replaced with herbal infusions). Sports drinks, sodas, and juices are three drinks that are unnecessary and a waste of money. There is nothing difficult about getting the fluids we need each day. It is within our reach to make good decisions.