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Hydration – Explained in 60 Seconds

By Jiri Kaloc

Now that you know all of the basics of proper hydration, it’s time for a few advanced tips. Will alcohol dehydrate you or can you have a beer after exercise? How about coffee and tea? Will they hinder or enhance performance? How much of these beverages should you drink?

One beer after exercise

Alcohol suppresses the anti-diuretic hormone vasopressin, which means that drinking alcohol can cause water loss through urine. It depends on how much you drink though. A study has shown that up to 660 ml of beer after exercise does not cause dehydration. Another study has shown that hydration status of athletes who drank a beer followed by a glass of water after exercise is similar to those who drank only water. So, if you want to avoid dehydration, stick to low-alcoholic content and always add water.

Moderate alcohol intake if you want to recover well

Another reason to moderate alcohol consumption is recovery. Studies have shown that alcohol consumption in large amounts decreases protein synthesis by 15 – 20 % and stops glycogen replenishment. It also raises the stress hormone cortisol which negatively affects testosterone production and reduces levels of human growth hormone by as much as 70 %. And last but not least, it negatively affects sleep quality.

Roman Kreuziger drinks a glass of beer after winning the 48th edition of the Amstel Gold Race in Valkenburg, Netherlands, 14 April 2013. © Profimedia, TEMP EPA

Coffee and tea won’t dehydrate you

Contrary to popular belief, the diuretic effects of coffee and tea are too weak to decrease hydration. So, you can add them to your hydration strategy. And you should because they can have a big effect on how you pace yourself. The science of the brain and exercise performance suggests caffeine can lower an athlete’s perception of effort, allowing them to maintain a higher level of output. This means that a coffee will help you allow yourself to go harder than you otherwise would.

A double-shot espresso before a training session

Recent studies have shown that you will get performance benefits with 3 mg of caffeine per 1 kg of body weight. Considering that a standard cup of coffee contains about 150 mg of caffeine then most people will have to drink only between one and two espressos before a training session to boost performance.

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