Athletes who collapse during meets or workouts are no more likely to be dehydrated than fellow competitors who remain upright, according to a new review with scathing words about sports-drink marketing. In fact, says Tim Noakes, MD, of the University of Cape Town, too much water (“hyperhydration”) is a greater health risk to athletes than dehydration.
As little as a 2% increase in total body water can trigger serious health problems, he writes, while serious dehydration risks don’t begin until a 15% decrease (which would require 48 dry hours in the desert).
Dr. Noakes adds, “Over the past 40 years humans have been misled… to believe that they need to drink to stay ‘ahead of thirst’ to be optimally hydrated.” An accompanying investigative article cites “collaboration” between beverage marketers and scientists in promoting “a whole area of science devoted to hydration.”
Bottom Line: Even if you’re an active person, eating a balanced diet and drinking fluids throughout the day is sufficient to keep you going strong. Adding a sports drink is more psychological than anything – unless you’re planning on running for 2 plus hours without stopping.