Is there an ideal sports water?


What does it take to be an athlete? Talent, dedication, sportsmanship and sacrifice may come to mind. But would you consider hydration to be vital for success?

At Mitte, we consider personalized hydration fundamental for all exercise and athletics, part of our pursuit to enable those around the world to consume mineralized water.

Of course, hydration in general is an important component of human health. The appropriate consumption of water is absolutely crucial to survival for every person on earth. After a mere few days without water, the absence of this critical nutrient is lethal.

For athletes, the importance of water is paramount due to the increased activity, both physical and mental. Reduced oxygen transport to the muscles can begin at a level of just 2% of liquid loss of total body weight. And it’s always good to have some water on reserve.

Torben Junker, a track and field athlete from Dortmund, Germany, echoes the importance of hydration in his everyday life. As part of the German National Team, he finds that repetition helps him to stay on track.

“Having a big glass of water when I wake up and go to sleep, as well as with every meal, helps me to meet my hydration goals.”

And for Torben, he also understands how sweating has a direct impact on his performance.

As the body hits one liter of fluid loss, one will start to see a significant decrease in their physical and mental performance. Depending on the activity and the level of exercise, this typically occurs after an hour of intensive sport. Hardcore athletes, such as those participating in a triathlon, produce nearly four liters of sweat during the same period.

“While carbohydrates help to refill the batteries, minerals are super important because many are lost through sweating,” says Torben. “The consumption of minerals are absolutely necessary for the restoration of the body, fundamental to appropriate training prep.”

Perspiration, the natural cooling response of the body, is also a time when minerals are flushed from the body. Due to this, athletes generally have a higher demand for salt, potassium, magnesium and calcium. And once the body is deprived of water and minerals, it’s harder for said athlete to concentrate completely.

It’s important to note that there’s a wide range of minerals lost in sweat due to a variety of factors, such as build, gender, location and the intensity of sport. The ranges can be found between: sodium at 413 to 1091 mg/liter; chloride at 533 to 1495 mg/liter; potassium at 121 to 225 mg/liter; calcium at 13 to 67 mg/liter and magnesium at 4 to 34 mg/liter.

It’s also important to note that due to the hormonal differences of athletes vs. the typical resting state, the magnesium requirement is almost twice as high as that of the normal population. The more intense the exercise, the greater need for nutrients.

From keeping mineral levels up to minimizing fatigue, here are the five minerals that have a direct impact on athletes:

Calcium: Often noted as one of the most important minerals, calcium is particularly significant for females who partake in excessive training (more than seven hours per week), as this may cause hormonal declines in young girls that may stop menstruation. This hormonal decline may also lead to irreversible osteoporosis. It’s suggested that an ideal sports beverage should have 45-225 mg/l of calcium.

Chloride: This helps to keep the amount of fluid inside and outside of your cells in balance. Further, it’s noted as helping to maintain proper blood volume and blood pressure. It’s suggested that an ideal sports beverage should have 500-1500 mg/l of chloride.

Magnesium: This mineral is important for the remineralization of bones and red blood cell formation. The recommended magnesium intake for endurance athletes is 500 to 800 mg daily, while more can cause diarrhea and less can lead to increased osteoporosis risk. It’s suggested that an ideal sports beverage should have 10-100 mg/l of magnesium.

Potassium: Responsible for regulating total body water and muscle contractions, this mineral is lost through sweat and urine. “As much as 150 mg/hour during activity can be tolerated by most athletes. Supplement potassium cautiously because too much too quickly can cause cardiac arrest,” so please monitor levels safely and accurately. It’s suggested that an ideal sports beverage should have 120-225 mg/l of potassium.

Sodium: What mineral helps cells retain water and prevent hydration? Yes, the answer is sodium and yes, it’s vital for athletes. The mineral is especially important for events lasting longer than a few hours, particularly for runners in hot environments, where hyponatremia – also known as dangerously low sodium – is a concern that puts many athletes at risk. It’s suggested that an ideal sports beverage should have 400-1100 mg/l of sodium.

While the minerals above are of high importance for athletes (plus others such as iron, zinc & selenium), a sports beverage must also provide carbohydrates to replace the lost energy.  Mineral water mixed with 30% juice (such as apple) is ideal to hit this goal.

And this is also a favorite of Torben, who notes that on hotter days, he prefers spritzers with a little bit of apple juice added.

Further, the proper consumption of minerals in water and food goes far beyond the actual moment. For recreational athletes, there are a few tips to ensure proper hydration levels.

In regard to ideal “athletic water,” this is noted as containing: 200 mg/l sodium, 50 mg/l magnesium & 150 mg/l of calcium. Within sports drinks, vitamin supplements are essentially unnecessary since few vitamins are lost through sweating. When engaged in sports, hypotonic (mineral water) or isotonic (some alcohol-free beers) liquids should be consumed; not hypertonic drinks like pure juices, cola, energy drinks, though. These drinks extract water from the blood.

And even the way sports beverages are served and consume has an impact. The drinks are to be cool but not too cold, for cold beverages can lead to stomach emptying. The stomach should be moderately filled at the beginning, such that 0.3 – 0.5 l should be consumed before exercise. Last but not least, one must continue to refuel throughout the day.

Great hydration, continuous analysis of the body and self-care will be the important aspects that remains as one gets older in life – no matter if you’re a long-term athlete.

“Hydration is really important to me, even when I’m not training,” says Torben. “As an athlete, I feel lucky that over the years, my hydration habits have become automated – making it possible for me to compete at a professional level, as well as treating my body with the consideration that it needs.”

By Mitte Team — Aug 8, 2019
The information contained in this article is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or nutritional advice.

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