We’ve already talked to you about the importance of hydration many times before, and when we talk about this subject we start, as is right, from the fundamental element: water.

But what are the last frontiers of hydration? As always, many news come from the United States or, at least, this country has always been very attentive to anything that tastes of novelty.

A recent conference of the American College of Sports Medicine presented new products, new research and also the results of studies on the different types of hydration that the market offers. Why is there not only water, you understand?

Water+

In A Clockwork Orange there was the Milk+, a drink made of milk and “reinforced” with some substance. Paraphrasing that name and without any illegal implication, I enjoy defining those products that are not just water: they are water reinforced with carbohydrates, mineral salts and proteins. All of these things are perfectly legal, let me be clear. The two types that follow mark the directions in which the market is moving: to improve athletic performance by acting on the balance of substances in our body and replenishing those that we lose during sports activity.

Hydrogel

It is the most revolutionary and interesting novelty in the field of supplements. As you may know if you have used carbogel or similar, not all athletes can stand them in the same way: for example, some athletes experience gastrointestinal discomfort after taking them. To avoid certain side effects, the Swedish startup Maurten developed a couple of years ago a compound of pectin and alginate that in the environment of the stomach recombine in hydrogel, “hiding” in the stomach and avoiding that overload of carbohydrates that can cause discomfort. Another purpose of the hydrogel is to allow a more accelerated metabolization (by making sugars available here first) even if research has not yet shown with certainty that this will happen.

Drink more often and less

One of the novelties introduced by Breaking2 has been that of supplies. Instead of the usual pitstop every 5 km, Kipchoge and its members were supplied every 3 km with smaller quantities of sport drinks. A similar thing happened in Berlin in 2018, when Kipchoge himself set the world record: in that case he was supplied every 2.5 km by volunteers trained to offer him the drink with a particular procedure, so that he did not inadvertently get out of hand (at those levels nothing is left to chance).

Do you need to hydrate more often and in smaller quantities? Research by Stephen Mears of Loughborough University in England does not seem to confirm this. During the tests the runners were divided into two groups and run for 100 minutes at 70% VO2max. One group was given 50ml drinks every 5 minutes and another 200ml drink every 20 minutes. The intake of carbohydrates and their use seems to have been even more effective in the group that drank more and less often, perhaps because a greater amount of sports drink was a beneficial shock to the stomach that was activated accordingly.

The power of the mind

You may be wondering at this point if you need to drink or replenish with hydrogel or similar. It is a natural question that has different answers. If you don’t work out a lot or don’t do important mileages, even water alone is enough. If your workouts are very heavy, reintegrate is necessary and highly recommended. Finally, there is a psychological aspect to consider: taking something more complex than water has a beneficial effect on the psyche because it is a way of telling the mind that you care about yourself. In the end it is about knowing your body, respecting it and making it understand that you love it and you are grateful for what it allows us to do.

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