Isotonic? Hypertonic? Ginandtonic?

In recent years there has been a huge increase of awareness around health and fitness, with many of us now attending exercise classes, weight training and the use of gyms has sky rocketed. Whilst there has also been an emphasis on diet, particularly surrounding protein, no one seems to talk that much about hydration. Water is the most essential nutrient for our bodies (after oxygen, obvs) and it makes up 70% of our body. Dehydration causes so many internal problems, and many of us can be completely unaware of when it’s happening.

Fluid replacement is essential for optimum performance; improving concentration and to have effective muscle control. A general rule of thumb is to aim to drink 1.5 litres (8 glasses) plus another litre for every hour of exercise every day. That being said; if you enjoy a nice walk with your spaniel every morning as your exercise routine, then in general, the best thing thing for you to drink is good ol’ tap water. But I have news for any of you avid gym goers – you might need a tonic and here’s why:

Water is best absorbed alongside our good friends electrolytes; which are carbohydrates (sugar) and sodium (salt). These fellas drastically increase the rate we absorb water which lets us perform at our best with a higher endurance. Only drinking water during high intensity work outs can dilute our stores of sodium, meaning we can effectively be decreasing our hydration. Bummer.

The good news is, I have a list of what you should be drinking and when, and it won’t cost you the earth, because you can make them all at home (yay!).

Hypertonic Drinks – this is a dilute solution aimed at those who exercise at high intensity for less than an hour. That means those of you after work, class attenders; HIIT training, Spinclass; you know the ones. Also those of you who might cycle to work, those rides can be long and tiring, just cos it’s your commute doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. The best way to make your own Hypertonic is 100ml of fruit squash, 1 litre of water and a pinch of salt. Mix it together and keep it in the fridge. Drink 1 litre for every hour you exercise.

Isotonic Drinks – this is for those of you who exercise for longer periods of time, either long gym sessions, intense strength training and endurance running or cycling. This solution is more concentrated and helps to maintain a consistent fluid balance while you sweat. The way to make this is 200ml fruit squash, 800ml water and a pinch of salt. Mix together and cool in the fridge. Drink a litre during/after every hour you’re training.

Hypotonic Drink  – this drink is the most highly concentrated and is vital for those who train at high intensity for very long periods of time. This tends to be people in team based sports, or those training for competition, involving intense and time consuming sessions and competitions. It will quickly replenish your fluids, allowing you optimum output. If taking part in this type of training, be sure to consume enough carbohydrates prior to exercise to prevent glucose levels dropping. To avoid buying expensive sports drinks, you can make hypotonic like this – 400ml fruit squash, 1 litre of water and a pinch of salt. Mix and refridgerate to cool. Consume 1 litre during/after exercise and make sure to replenish energy stores!

Using these drinks accordingly will keep you at peak hydration, meaning you’ll be able to perform at your best and get the most out of your workouts.

Now regarding the debate around which Tonic is best suited to Gin; is there really any question? Fevertree every time.

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