The Science Behind Hydrate
Simply put, hydration has a massive impact on athletic performance, so the obvious solution is to drink more water, right? Maybe not. In day-to-day situations, water is an ideal hydrator, but when you’re exerting yourself, factors such as fluid imbalance and electrolyte loss—which can lead to reduced performance, cramps, and other issues—come into play.
So it’s on to Plan B: Grab yourself a sugary sports drink. That way, you get the fluids, electrolytes, and glycogen-restoring carbohydrates. Again, maybe not. Thanks to a process called osmosis, sports drinks that are too high in sugar, do not hydrate effectively and can absorb into your system inefficiently, staying or ‘sloshing’ in your stomach, causing bloating, cramping, and again impacting your performance.
The trick to the perfect performance hydrator is balance. Because thirstiness aside, who wants to fall behind simply because they’ve got the wrong drink? Fluid loss equals power loss—and Hydrate (a member of the Beachbody Performance Line)aims to take any loss out of the equation.
“The idea of Hydrate is to optimize fluid absorption and fluid balance during exercise,” said Nima Alamdari, Ph.D., Executive Director of Scientific Affairs at Beachbody. “And optimizing fluid balance is important because we know it has a direct correlation to performance.”
In fact, would you believe a 1-2 percent drop in optimal body water can lead to over a 10 percent loss in maximum power? “If I’m a cyclist, I am going to be pretty interested in those numbers,” Alamdari said. “I am certainly going to want to pay attention to my hydration status because that can delay power decline and fatigue.
With that in mind, Beachbody has engineered Hydrate as part of its Performancelineup to maximize fluid absorption and is doing that through a hypotonic formula – the osmolality is lower than your blood so there is fast fluid absorption by your body.
There are three basic types of sports drinks, hypotonic, isotonic and hypertonic, and all reflect their osmolality, which indicates the amount of solutes (dissolved substances) in the liquid and its rate of absorption through a permeable membrane like your gut lining.
A hypertonic drink has a higher osmolality than your blood; one that is isotonic is the same as your blood; and a hypotonic drink has a lower osmolality than your blood. Through osmosis, liquids with a lower concentration of particles will cross the membrane to where the higher concentration is in order to create fluid balance. So a hypotonic drink will enter your blood stream more quickly than an isotonic or hypertonic drink.
Traditional sports drinks on the market emphasize energy-replenishment and lean more to carbohydrates as fuel as the primary driver for performance enhancement. That in turn creates a hypertonic drink with a higher osmolality that the body will absorb more slowly. They are essentially trying to create a product that provides both energy and hydration, but the solution can lose effectiveness. While it supplies sugar for fuel, the osmolality may be too high to efficiently mitigate fluid loss. “High-sugar sports drinks are not optimal for hydration. The carbohydrate level is too high,” Alamdari said. “That can lead to delayed gastric emptying. It can sit in your stomach. Ultra-endurance athletes or marathon runners will often talk about stomach ‘sloshing’ or [gastrointestinal] distress.”
Hydrate’s citrus flavor has also been formulated to lessen flavor fatigue—a common occurrence in endurance athletes, who sometimes lose tolerance for the taste of their during-event supplements after hours of being required to consume them. “Hydrate was formulated with a balanced, not-overwhelming flavor or sweetness,” said Denis Faye, Beachbody Director of Nutrition Content, himself an ultra-endurance cyclist. “I can tell you firsthand that when you’re eight hours into an event and your sports drink starts tasting like ash, it’s a problem. Hydrate avoids this nicely.”
Like the entire Performance line, Energize is NSF Certified for Sport approved, meaning its label claims have been verified against product contents and it’s been screened for substances banned by most major athletic organizations.
Alamdari said they also looked at the World Health Organization’s method for producing rehydrating drinks for developing countries. “The World Health Organization (WHO) oral rehydration solution recognizes the superiority of a low osmolality, hypotonic, solution for countering dehydration and promoting better fluid balance. “
Finally, Hydrate stands apart because it contains quercetin, a phytonutrient researched for its capacity to improve exercise performance, increase energy production, and reduce exercise-induced inflammation. “We included quercetin because it’s the most researched phytonutrient for improving exercise performance,” Alamdari said.
Quercetin is believed to work both acutely and chronically, meaning you should experience benefits on the day as well as through long-term use. The acute benefit works well here because the longer you exercise, the more Hydrate you drink. And the more Hydrate you drink, the more quercetin you consume to continue pushing performance.
This means it also works cumulatively with Energize, the BBP pre-workout supplement. “It complements Energize but it also has its own distinct benefits,” explained Alamdari. “We didn’t just want the most effective hydrator; we want to be the most effective performance enhancer.”
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