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Why hydrating is important for runners

Runners need hydration for a number of health reasons.

By Henry Howard

It’s important to be properly hydrated at any time of the year. But in the heat of the summer it’s critical, especially for runners and other outdoor adventure seekers.

As I gear up for my 100-miler, Burning River at the end of July, I’ve been working on practicing my hydration strategy.

I don’t want to leave anything to chance. So that’s why I use Gnarly Nutrition’s Hydrate as well as some of its other products that fuel my workouts and boost my recovery. Gnarly Hydrate helps runners maintain electrolyte balance, which keeps them from dehydrating.

This is the third of a four-part series about using clean supplements as part of fueling and recovery for endurance athletes. The series started in May with an overview of BCAAs, followed by a look at creatine and this month’s focus on hydration, and will conclude in August. Each installment will detail how a nutritional product plays a key role in my health and performance.

Gnarly Hydrate is gluten-free, vegan and is clean sport certified. It has 250mg of sodium, 90mg of magnesium and 7 grams of carbs.

Thanks to Gnarly Nutrition for sponsoring this series. I’ve been a huge supporter of Gnarly since discovering them during a trip to Utah just before the pandemic. Their approach to clean, athlete-created nutritional products meets my needs. I choose supplements that are NSF certified, made with natural ingredients and allow me to perform my best. Gnarly does all that and more.

What is the best source to keep runners hydrated?

Let’s take a deeper dive into hydration and how Gnarly Hydrate benefits athletes.

Hydrate is gluten-free, vegan and is clean sport certified. It has 250mg of sodium, 90mg of magnesium and 7 grams of carbs. Flavors include orange pineapple, berry lemonade and cherry cola. At just 30 calories per serving, Gnarly Hydrate is loaded with electrolytes and B vitamins to fuel tough adventures.

Why are electrolytes critical for runners?

During my training runs, I lose valuable electrolytes, which are critical to achieve proper hydration, nerve function, muscle function and body pH.

A depletion of electrolytes can lead to more frequent muscle cramps in the legs, stomach cramps or side stitches. Other symptoms include muscle spasms, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, constipation, dark urine, decreased urine output, dry mouth and foul breath, dry skin, muscle weakness or stiff and achy joints.

It’s easy to understand why those ailments can lead to poor performance.

The four major electrolytes that maintain the body’s fluid balance are sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. So keeping your electrolytes balanced is critical for both performance and health.

What if I just drink water?

Taking in the proper amount of water will only get you halfway. It still leaves you vulnerable to dehydration, which could impact your performance and could lead to serious injury.

The other half of the equation involves replenishing the electrolytes lost in sweat. When we sweat, we lose sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Of those, sodium is, by far, lost in the highest concentrations, with losses ranging from 200-700mg per 16 ounces of sweat.

That’s why it is highly recommended for endurance athletes and others working out in hotter temperatures to choose a hydration beverage that contains electrolytes. That helps provide your body both the water and electrolytes it needs to perform optimally while preventing cramping, dehydration and potentially other dire consequences.

Furthermore, if you attempt to rehydrate just by drinking a lot of water, you may create a more severe problem. Drinking lots of water in the heat without taking in electrolytes can lead to hyponatremia, a potentially fatal situation where blood sodium levels drop too low.

Gnarly Hydrate and its Vegan protein powder are part of an impressive lineup

Should runners hydrate in winter?

Yes, absolutely.

In fact, your risk of dehydration actually rises in the winter. Since people don’t feel as thirsty when the temperature drops, many forget to drink enough water. In lower temperatures, bodies also have to work harder under the weight of heavier clothes, and sweat evaporates quickly in cold, dry air.

To minimize your risk of dehydration during winter, here are some suggestions:

  • Carry water with you.

  • Monitor your water intake.

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

  • Drink healthy hot beverages.

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

Why does Hydrate contain sugar?

There are two primary reasons why Gnarly Hydrate includes sugar.

First, sugar, along with sodium, helps facilitate the transport of water into the body.

Secondly, sugar is also an important fuel for muscles during exercise. Gnarly Hydrate doesn’t include enough sugar to be your primary fuel, which is why it is important to plan for and get in enough calories from other sources). Hydrate does contain enough sugar to effectively keep your body from reaching dehydration.

Is Gnarly Hydrate easy to digest?

Not only does it taste great but it doesn’t mess with my digestion. That’s important to me since I can’t have any of those issues during my big race.

Whether you are refueling for a marathon or ultra, or just replacing electrolytes on a midweek run, turn to Gnarly Hydrate.


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