INS AND OUTS OF EXERCISE
MARIKA SBOROS: Easy on the water and sugar for that ultramarathon
The mantra that athletes should drink as much as they can, has built up the sports drinks industry, but is not always good for your health
The human body is made up of lots of water — somewhere between 55% to 78%. It makes intuitive sense, then, that water is the best drink during prolonged exercise. The percentage of water in a body depends on age, gender and levels of fitness, say experts. That’s because fatty tissue has less water in it than lean tissue. Women naturally have more adipose (fatty) tissue than men. Yet while most experts say water is the optimal drink, there are caveats. And as with all good things in life, too much can be bad. “If you are a recreational athlete, you only need water,” says Cape Town sports scientist Prof Tim Noakes. “If you are an elite athlete, you may need more than water.” Noakes is author of the best-selling book Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports. In it, he dispatches the mantra that experts have repeated to athletes and coaches for decades: “Drink as much as you can, even before you feel thirsty.” “The overhydrated athlete is at risk of exercise...