During exercise or exertion, maintaining water balance is crucial. Engaging in physical activity leads to thermogenesis, or heat production, and when sweat evaporates from the skin, this allows body heat to be dissipated to keep normal body temperature in check. However, this process also results in dehydration. Severe dehydration can have grave consequences such as cardiac arrest or stroke.
On average, loss of sweat is equal to about one liter of fluid for each hour of exercise. Not only is water lost, but so are electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, and mainly sodium. That is why sweat is so salty.
Offsetting fluid loss is essential to preventing dehydration. A general rule of thumb is to drink about 8 to 10 ounces of fluids for every 15 minutes of exercise. Also make sure you are hydrated prior to exercise, a workout, or any strenuous activity for that matter.
While exercising, avoid energy drinks laden with high fructose corn syrup and artifical colors, caffeinated drinks, sugary drinks such as soda, coffee drinks, and anything alcoholic. These beverages are not beneficial when exercising. In fact, they can actually harm the body and impede recovery from exertion due to ingredients such as caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup. Caffeine is a diuretic that can be a factor contributing towards dehydration, while some sports drinks have toxic chemicals such as BVO, according to The Mayo Clinic. Sodas? They are just plain bad news. Period.