While good old H2O is always going to be a runner’s tried and trusted whilst training or on race day, there are also healthy alternatives that can keep your body hydrated and replenished. – BY LAUREN VAN DER VYVER
When you run, your internal temperature rises and blood-flow to the skin increases. This transfers heat away from the body’s inner core and water is released through sweat, which means that you need to replenish your body’s water, electrolytes and sodium chloride (salt). So what are your options when hydrating? A sports drink with added electrolytes rehydrates well while adding a combination of sodium and carbohydrates, which in turn also help more water to be absorbed. (When you’re not training, it’s also vital to keep your body hydrated in order to keep energy levels up.)
These days the market is flooded with sports drinks, many with extra punches of concentrate and sugar, but there are a few simple but healthy and effective alternatives you could look at:
· Coconut Water contains essential electrolytes, punching more potassium than a banana! There is no added sugar or fat, and it’s one of the healthiest options to replenish lost nutrients. It contains easily digestible carbs from natural sugars, which makes it an easy alternative to sports drinks.
· Green Tea gives you a natural caffeine kick and antioxidants increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel, which improves muscle endurance. For the endurance junkies, drinking green tea can help your blood-flow, because flavonoids relax blood vessels, so blood can flow more easily.
· Wild Water: Many people find it hard to drink plain water, so choose sparkling water with soaked strawberries and mint, or still water with ice, lime and apple slices. These drinks provide something different with the bubble, kick and flavour, but don’t overpower with sweetness, so you will cut calories, but if you need some sweetness, a spoon of honey will do wonders.
Make Your Own Sports Drink
Here’s an easy recipe to make a homemade, nutritious and energising sport drink that you can drink before, during and after your long runs.
4 cups of water
½ tsp sea salt
3 tsp raw honey
¼ cup of lemon juice
½ cup of cherry juice (no added sugar)
½ cup of orange juice (freshly squeezed)
Pour the water in a pan and heat to boiling. Remove from heat, add the honey and salt, and stir. Add the remaining ingredients to another bowl, pour in the water, stir and put in the fridge to cool.
The benefits of this mix are:
· Honey holds both fructose and glucose, giving your body energy. Your body utilises the glucose right away while the fructose acts as a slow-release energy source.
· Sea Saltcontains magnesium, replacing electrolytes and trace minerals lost through sweat, and salt encourages insulin sensitivity, controlling your blood sugar levels.
· Lemon Juice is abundant in natural electrolytes and contains calcium, potassium and magnesium. It will help you prevent muscle cramps in the latter stages of your run.
· Cherry Juicereduces inflammation and helps reduce post-run joint pain.
· Orange Juice hydrates, increases blood sugar and restores lost electrolytes. About ½ a cup helps boost blood sugar levels in no time.