- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Former New Orleans Saints head athletic trainer Dean Kleimschmidt used to open training camp each year not with lunges, squats or tackling exercises, but with lectures on the importance of proper hydration.
Mr. Kleimschmidt now helps the Washington Redskins get in shape for the football season. But his message remains the same concerning ample sports drinks on the sidelines.
"At the professional level, we'd rather run out of food than Gatorade," Mr. Kleimschmidt says.
Cool beverages, from Gatorade to plain old water, help keep athletes hydrated enough for their bodies to perform to the best of their abilities.
Water, in the form of sweat, is excreted during vigorous activity. Its evaporation helps the body keep its core temperature regulated.
The process does more than maintain our 98-degree Fahrenheit core temperature. Electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which help the body carry nerve impulses to various cells and allow for muscle contractions, also are excreted via perspiration.
Water can take care of a raging thirst and keep the body safely hydrated. But sports drinks, including brands like the aforementioned Gatorade, Cytomax, Allsport, and Accelerade, provide extra nutrients its makers claim grant better performance over the course of an activity.
Another entry in the beverage market, Red Bull energy drinks, combines the vitamins and carbohydrates of sports drinks with enough caffeine to promise a boost to one's energy reservoir.
Weekend warriors, though, may not need the extra boost that sports drinks provide.
"It's not necessary for the casual athlete," says Kathy Toepfer, a Silver Spring dietitian and nutrition consultant. "Sports drinks are for somebody doing an all-day bike ride."
If exercise is prolonged, the benefits of a sports drink come into play. "If they're exercising in intense heat from two to four hours on, you need some kind of calories," she says.

Sports drinks offer a small amount of easily digested calories, mostly in the form of carbohydrates, which provide the body with extra energy.
Some fruit juices offer similar amounts of calories.
"That doesn't make orange juice the perfect thirst quencher," she says. Water is very easily tolerated by one's digestive system. More concentrated drinks, like orange juice, may cause upset stomachs if not diluted.
Muscle fatigue is but one of dehydration's symptoms. An athlete experiencing a 1 percent to 2 percent dehydration will experience decreased performance. If dehydration reaches 3 percent or more, it increases the risk of heat-induced illnesses, like heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. An hour of intense exercise can bring this on, or less if the athlete began the activity slightly dehydrated.
Signs of dehydration can include more concentrated urine, characterized by a dark color, or a lack of urine.
Ms. Toepfer recommends downing 16 ounces of fluid a half hour before exercising, then drinking about one cup of water for each hour of activity. "Water is always best for rehydration," Ms. Toepfer says.
One summer activity, swimming, can deceive participants into thinking they don't need extra fluids.
"That might be a situation where they need to be careful," she says. Dehydrated swimmers won't feel overheated, but their performance will suffer unless they take in enough fluids.

That kind of competitive scenario is what Mr. Kleimschmidt hopes to avoid throughout the season.
Mr. Kleimschmidt and his staff will watch players during games and practices, looking for signs of dehydration. Players who lose their focus or wobble as they jog back to the huddle could be showing signs of dehydration.
Athletes might think they don't need to drink up if the skies are gray and they aren't perspiring heavily.
"That would be a huge mistake. [When you sweat] you're not just losing water, you're losing electrolytes. Those need to be replaced," says Mr. Kleimschmidt, whose team went through about 2,000 cases of sports drink during the course of the football season.
At the professional level, he says, sports drinks are the best way to keep athletes in top condition.
"You don't want a carbonated beverage. You don't want soda or fruit juices," he says. "You want things scientifically designed to get in and out of your gut."
Soda, he says, leaves an athlete feeling full and not ready to resume action.
"Even milk has been trying to gain ground as a sports beverage and it's not. Orange juice is not," Mr. Kleimschmidt says.
Bottled water prevents dehydration, but it contains no calories, fat, sodium or carbohydrates, he says.
The National Athletic Trainers' Association recommends drinking fluids that range in temperature from 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit during an activity. In its 2000 position statement, "Fluid Replacement for Athletes," the association recommends drinks with carbohydrates to refill glycogen stores and electrolytes.
Boston-based author and dietitian Nancy Clark says proper hydration helps a body's blood flow properly and aids kidney functioning.
"For most people this isn't a concern," Ms. Clark says. "If you're sweating profusely it's different."
"The body needs two things [during a workout]," she says. "One is adequate fluids, to prevent dehydration. The other is carbohydrates. You need energy to maintain blood sugar."
"When you're concerned about every drop of fluid that can be a time when you think sports drink," she says.
She differs from her peers, though, when she contends that reaching for a Coke during a workout might not be so bad.
"The newest research shows that caffeine is not a diuretic as it is reported to be," she says. Diuretics prevent the body from retaining water. "Gatorade is a watered-down soft drink [without the carbonation]."
"Many people use sports drinks thinking they're in the category of health foods," she continues. "It's just sugar water with a dash of salt in it."
Athletes should determine what she calls their "sweat rate" by weighing themselves without clothes before and after a standard workout. If someone
loses two pounds after their typical hour run, for example, they should drink about 32 ounces during or after the jog to keep their water balance.
Without proper hydration, "your body has to pump thicker blood to get to your muscles," she says.
The replenishing promises of Gatorade and other sports drinks don't fully refuel the body, she says.
"The amount of sodium in Gatorade is quite small," she says. A serving of Gatorade, for example, has 110 mg of sodium. Sixteen ounces of sweat, she says, has about 400-700 mg of sodium. "American diets, though, don't usually lack for sodium," she says.
And the body often tells you when it needs sodium.
"After a marathon, people want salt, potato chips or pretzels," she says.
Gatorade, the best known sports drink, began in the late 1960s at the University of Florida after players began cramping from the heat. Its initial formula included water, a dash of sodium, some electrolytes and a sweetener.
That recipe hasn't changed much since then, says Lisa Carlson, registered dietitian and senior manager in the Gatorade Professional Education program.
Ms. Carlson says the company's research has shown athletes will drink more of a lightly flavored beverage than plain water.
The company released its newest sports drink, Propel Fitness Water, nationwide in March. Propel is a clear liquid that isn't as sweet as traditional Gatorade but packs four B vitamins that help convert fats and carbohydrates into energy, plus vitamins C and E.
Propel, sold in 16 ounce and 24 ounce bottles for roughly $1 to $1.40, offers fewer calories than traditional sports drinks.
Ms. Carlson says the product is aimed at those who might be bored with bottled water and don't want the calories of traditional Gatorade.
Professional athletes, whose careers ride on beating opponents by the slimmest of margins, turn to sports drinks such as Gatorade for that competitive edge.
For the rest of us, Ms. Clark says, sports drinks are a luxury, sweet beverages that may coax us to drink more than our thirst might dictate to keep dehydration at bay.
"Ordinary folk, for the most part, can do fine with a pre-exercise snack and water during exercise," Ms. Clark says.


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