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What Hydrates Best?

Is there something that works better than water and if so, what? Also, does warm liquid hydrate better than cold, or vice versa?

Question:

Is there something that works better than water and if so, what? Also, does warm liquid hydrate better than cold, or vice versa?

Submitted by - - Bill, Carmel, CA

Answer:

I vote, in most cases, for water. Current recommendations are to drink 1/2 to 2/3 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day, ingested periodically throughout the day. Figured in liters, that’s about 3-4 liters per day for the average-sized person.

In extremes of heat, such as summer hiking in the Grand Canyon, a body’s need for water can also be extreme, more than the average. It’s best to check with local experts and/or land managers about fluid intake, and follow their directions. The most important factor in hydration may be self-monitoring: Do you feel okay? Are you thirsty? Is your urine relatively clear?

Some research indicates cold water, water at a temperature in the 40s F, is emptied from the stomach at a higher rate than water at other temperatures, and is therefore absorbed faster. The data remains inconclusive, and the most important impact of fluid temperature may be palatability. Cool water usually “tastes” better.

During exercise lasting less than one hour, there is little evidence of physiological or physical performance differences between consuming a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink and plain water. Participants in longer events should consider solutions containing 4-8% carbohydrates. The carbohydrates can be sugars (e.g., glucose or sucrose) or starch (e.g., maltodextrin). For most wilderness travelers the primary value in sports drinks is probably palatability. Most of sports drinks have acceptable concentrations of sugar, but on an individual basis people may like to dilute the drink, certainly an acceptable act. Sport drinks may not provide enough sodium if that’s your only source of sodium.

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