Unlocking your Ability - The Ingredients of Hydration; The Good The Bad and The Ugly

The Keys Ingredients to Peak Performance

The Electrolytes

An electrolyte is a substance producing an electrical conducting solution when dissolved in water.

How do electrolytes assist the athlete in training so they may reach peak performance?

Electrolytes are responsible for:  regulating the heartbeat, enabling muscles to contract supporting movement, electrolytes also help balance the bodies’ hydration levels. The elements listed below are electrolytes, electrolytes can be found in food and water

Calcium – responsible for muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses, blood clotting, cell division, bones & teeth.

Potassium- assists in maintain stable blood pressure, regulating the heartbeat and muscle function.

Magnesium –promotes muscle contraction, proper heart rhythm, nerve function, bone building, strength. Necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions the body, boosts the immune system, helps maintain a stable heart rate, stabilizes blood sugar and promotes the formation of bones and teeth.

Magnesium has other characteristics important to an athlete; it promotes a reduction of anxiety, aids the body to digest foods and helps keep a proper protein balance in the body.

Chloride – helps maintains fluid balance in the blood, in the cells and the fluid between the cells.  It helps maintain proper acidity.

Sodium – controls the amount of water in the body, helps regulate blood volume for muscle and nerve function

Phosphate – works in combination with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth and is necessary for energy production tissue growth and repair.

Bicarbonate – balances your PH levels, when the muscles produce lactic acid when working out, the kidneys release bicarbonate to reduce acidity throughout the body.

It has been found that the higher the acidity levels in your body the higher your chance for disease.


What fuel is gassing your engine?

Are you hydrating with coffee, tea, sports drinks, energy drinks, water, high sugar, no sugar, caffeine, decaffeinated?


The caffeine connection:  Are you overdosing?

YES you can overdose on caffeine!

The National Institutes of Health – caffeine is a chemical compound found in various plants that acts as a central nervous system stimulant.  Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, chocolate, ice cream, yogurt, candy bars, protein bars and some over the counter medications - caffeine pills and powders.

Most people think that if you are putting fluids into your body you are hydrating your body, this is not necessarily the case.  In some instances the drink that your think would hydrate you can cause dehydration and worse. According to the “Mayo Clinic” up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day appears safe for the average adult. Psychology Today reports that teenagers should keep their caffeine level to approximately 100 milligrams per day and yet when looking at statistics that age group of coffee/caffeine drinkers is one of the fastest growing.

100 milligrams of caffeine is approximately equivalent to: 

1 cup of coffee

½ cup of soda

1 cup of hot or cold chocolate

1/2 cup of energy drink

* Varies depending on product brand and 1 cup is 8 ounces usually less than the size of the container the product is marketed in.

On the field young athletes tend to gravitate to water and or sports drinks to balance hydration levels.  What are they doing off the field?  Decisions made while not in practice and/or competition can affect the way you train and compete.

How serious are you about your athletic ambitions?

Take soda; according to Huffington Post in a July 27, 2012 article nearly 48% of Americans drink at least 2.6 glasses of soda per day.  Soft drinks can contain up to 150 mg of caffeine and 30 teaspoons of sugar in 1-8 ounce serving. Many other drinks fall into this category of having large amounts of sugar and high caffeine levels. 

While some drinks can be helpful when training there is so much commercialization and hype about products that most people don’t know what is the better choice. 

Caffeine Affect

·      Nervousness / Jitters

·      Anxiety / Restlessness

·      Irritability

·      Nausea / Vomiting / Upset Stomach

·      Increased Heart Rate

·      Muscle Tremors

·      Insomnia

·      Sweating

·      Dizziness

·      Cardiac Arrest

·      Dehydration

The suggested remedy for drinking too much caffeine is to flush it out of your system with water.  The ratio to flush it out of your system is 1 cup to 1 cup.  Please remember that the container size varies from product to product.  Also remember to snack on low sugar high fiber fruits and vegetables.

Please note:  Some over the counter medications such as antihistamines can result in similar and more extreme effects as caffeine and when mixed with an excessive amount of caffeine can produce exacerbated symptoms. It depends on a number of factors how your body will respond.  While the adult athlete has a fully formed immune system the teen’s hormones are constantly changing, the result of ingesting combinations of ingredients like caffeine and other types of medication should not be taken lightly, especially if you are training.  The results could be deadly.

Forms of Hydration

Hydration- Soft Drinks / Sports Drinks / Energy Drinks / Water

Soft / Sport / Energy Drinks can contain up to 30 teaspoons of sugar and 200 milligrams of caffeine.

Sugar Affect:

10 minutes after drinking your body has consumed all the sugar it requires for a full day.

20 minutes your liver starts turning the sugar into fat.

40 minutes your body has absorbed all the glucose from sugar and your blood pressure starts to rise.

45 minutes your brain starts to produce large amounts of dopamine that increases your heart rate (Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that when released affects emotions and movement)

60 minutes your blood sugar spikes increasing your risk of diabetes.

The combination of too much caffeine and sugar is a recipe for disaster when training and competing.  This doesn’t even take into consideration prescription and over the counter allergy, flu and other types containing chemicals you may be taking.

Water for hydration

Not all water is good while you are training.  When you go to the store there are generally 3 types of water. 

Purified Water, Spring Water and Distilled Water.

Purified water (FDA) has to be refined using 1 of 3 methods; deionization, reverse osmosis or distilled.

Distilled water is boiled eliminating all contaminants, turned to steam and captured.  According to an article written by mercola.com referencing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “Distilled water, being mineral-free, is very aggressive, in that it tends to dissolve substances with which it comes in contact.  This means that as you ingest distilled water it absorbs the vitamins and minerals from your body.  This also occurs when you cook vegetables in it and leave it open to the air it absorbs carbon dioxide and toxins form the atmosphere.

Purified & Spring Water

Purified water has had chemicals removed unfortunately this process also reduces the amount of electrolytes.  Moreover the reduction of electrolytes also decreases water absorption necessary for the athlete.

Spring water is alive, you are taking vital energy into your body to re-charge it and return it to a balanced state.  (www.mercola.com)

Water recommendations:  Find a, PH balanced water 6.5 to 7.5 with as many electrolytes as possible, per the above information. Use spring water whenever possible.  If you have a spring near you it is preferable you bottle the water yourself.  If you are looking for a spring in your area you can try www.findaspring.com.  (www.mercola.com)

Any athlete training for more than 60 minutes should consult their physician/nutritionist on which type of water will work best for their body in training. 

How do you know what is right for you?

Recommendations from various professionals suggest water intake be based on body weight.  The calculation is weight in pounds / 2 = # of ounces per day.  This is for the average person not in training or working out.  The athlete in training is required to drink ½ their body weight and up to their full body weight in ounces of water.


Your daily water intake requirements

Non training:  200 pounds / 2 = 100 ounces / 8 = 12.5 cups per day

Training: 200 pounds / 2 = 100 ounces to 200 ounces/ 8 = 12.5 cups per day up to 25 cups

(health.usanews.com - September 13, 2013)

Are tired during training: is it your hydration, diet, stress level and there can be a number of contributing factors.  Are you drinking too much of a bad thing and not enough of the good.  It’s about education and consulting with a professional about what works for you.  Each person/athlete is different and no one method works for everyone.

For instance when I was training most people were into the high carbs before competition and most athletes still follow this method.  The high carbohydrates made me feel tired, sluggish and I would take a nap.  I switched to a low carbohydrate; high protein balanced way of eating and never had the issue again.  I also took into consideration what and how much I was drinking and dealt with the stressful issues of being an athlete through meditation and other forms of exercise.

The affects on the athlete of sugar and caffeine vary from person to person.

As an athlete whether you are training on the field or off excessive caffeine and sugars can put undo stresses on your body.  Adopting these habits as an athlete in training in your pre-teen and teen years as you deal with the hormonal changes your bodies are going through adds additional stress to the systems of your body to recover. While flushing out your system with water can work, your kidneys are working overtime to remove all that water.  Please be aware that your body requires and uses more energy to recover from excess of anything.

This is energy you could be using and when training or competing every bit of energy counts.

 The method of hydration you choose as an athlete in or out of training affects how you train and your performance during competition.  It can directly influence future goals and aspirations: Scholarships, career, etc.

South Carolina Teen Dies After Drinking Too Many Caffeinated Beverages.