I don’t have to tell you that women are different from men, but what you may not realize, is that our hydration needs are unique too!
A few years ago, chocolate milk was hyped as the optimal recovery drink for everyone, helping to promote muscle repair and rebuild energy stores after exercise.
Just like any new food or fitness craze, it’s important to consider the facts:
Chocolate milk is really no magic elixir for either sex. Pretty much any snack or drink that has a similar ratio of carbs to protein can be effective – but, the reality is, the beverage you loved as a kid may work for men, but it’s probably not the best choice for women.
A female athlete, or any woman looking to up her fitness level, has her own set of needs – different from her husband’s, boyfriend’s or brother’s, but we do have at least one thing in common: hydration is essential.
Thirst is a warning sign of dehydration, assuming you haven’t just eaten a bowl of extra salty popcorn or chips.
It kicks in when you’ve lost about two percent of your water weight which is the point you become prone to headaches and muscle cramps, your physical abilities start to falter, and the stress that results speeds up your heartbeat leaving you feeling fatigued. Severe dehydration can cause mental confusion, vomiting, or even death!
The difference between men and women when it comes to hydration is not necessarily how much fluid you take in, but what it consists of. The amount doesn’t really depend on gender, but more on individual biology and lifestyle.
The key to exactly how much you need is to listen to your body.
The exact recommended amount can vary, but in general, the average woman should be consuming at least 12 cups of water per day, including fluids from food. Of course, that can make it difficult to figure just how much fluid you’re really getting, so your best bet may be to stay hydrated by sipping slowly throughout the day.
While you’re working out, you may or may not need to stop and take a drink. If you aren’t sure, stop and ask yourself how intense your workout is, how long, and in what temperature.
If you’re exercising for under an hour in fairly cool weather, you probably don’t need to take a break to drink, but if you’re sweating profusely or going for a very long run, pause for a fluid break.
One big difference between women and men that you’re probably well aware of is that a woman tends to bloat about a week before her period.
During this time, more fluid is held between cells rather than in the blood – and about eight percent of plasma volume is lost which means those who exercise often don’t have enough fluid available for sweat. Without sweat, it’s difficult for your body to regulate its temperature during a workout.
To correct this, you need a little bit of sodium in the fluid you’re drinking in order to get it into the blood. Just before an intense, long, or hot workout, aim for about a teaspoon of salt if you weight around 140 pounds – or ¾ of a teaspoon if you weigh closer to 120 pounds.
Another reason chocolate milk doesn’t really work for women, is that you need more protein than men after a workout in order to optimize recovery.
So what does work?
A snack that contains about 25 to 30 grams of protein in a 3:1 ratio of protein to carbs within a half hour of finishing a challenging workout is ideal. Low fat or nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a small handful of raw, unsalted almonds added (there is already 50 milligrams of sodium in the yogurt, so you don’t need more), is sure to do the trick!
My favorite recovery drink is made with Organifi Protein Powder (I love their chocolate flavor) I normally make a shake with 2 scoops of protein, 1/2 banana, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 Tbsp of raw almond butter, 8 oz water, and ice. It's such a treat after a hard workout!
Yours in health & happiness,
P.S. Please share this important information with your friends and loved ones. And I love hearing from you so be sure to leave your comments and questions below!