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Outdoor Tips and Topics: Hydration Beverages Blog Feature

By: Deb Malmon on June 8th, 2011

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Outdoor Tips and Topics: Hydration Beverages

health and fitness

Women on outdoor trips need to increase the amount of water they typically drink during the day to keep adequately hydrated while exercising. Of course a dogsledding trip in Minnesota requires a different amount than a hiking vacation in Utah or a kayaking trip in the Bahamas. In general, we recommend 1-2 liters a day, depending on weather and activity level.

Many women want to add a hydration beverage, such as gatorade. Outdoor tips and topics: a hydration systemThe thinking is that the energy drink can refuel electrolytes as well as hydrate. This can be a good idea in a very hot, humid climate or on a grueling hike or run. However, a lot of time you eat regularly enough that you really do not need to resupply electrolytes, especially if you are balancing the salty/sweet foods. And your best source of fuel/electrolytes is still from food.

In addition, most of these energy drinks supply an unnecessary amount of sugar into our diets. You may want to factor in the amount of calories you are drinking into what you are already eating, which is often more than you can burn off.

I have also seen women rely only on energy drinks solely for hydration (or at a proportionally higher rate than water alone) who become actually more dehydrated than if they had sipped small amounts of water. Some people also get stomache aches from drinking only energy/hydrating drinks on a day hike or paddle. So, my advice is: be conservative with energy/hydrating drinks. Either dilute the powder you mix into your bottle with a lot of water, or fill one small bottle with the energy drink and your camelback with 1-2 liters of water and alternate. Or, stay away from them all together unless the situation/weather/activity really calls for it.

Of course some women just enjoy drinking flavored water - and that this alone will help them drink more and stay hydrated. If you are one of these people, take care in adding any sort of hydration/drink mix into your camelback. The sugar and other ingredients in the drink mix (yes, even from sugar-free drinks like Crystal light) can really gunk up your camelback bladder and hose - sometimes beyond what you can clean out. Instead, have your camelback for water and a quart water bottle for the hydration drink mix.

There are also non-sugary hydrating mixes that you can add to your water as well. One of our guides, Anne Flueckiger, who is not opposed to sugar ("cake is good" she says) recommends Nuun tablets as a great way to add flavor and/or electrolytes to water without added sugar.