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Mr. Huzzah: You Are What You Drink

Posted Feb 07 2012 12:00am

We’ve heard it since we were little kids: “You are what you eat.” But I have a more accurate sentiment I’d like to discuss: “You are what you drink.” Why’s it more accurate? Because what you drink, or don’t drink, can make an enormous difference in how you feel and perform.

Let’s start with an initial premise: No matter what else you imbibe, it’s irrelevant unless you drink enough plain old water. Being larger than your average bear (6’2”, ~215 pounds), I make it my goal to down a gallon of the clear stuff every day. Yes, this means I pee a LOT. But it also means that I’m consistently hydrated. And depending on when you drink your water, it can also help curb your appetite and has been thought to increase your metabolic rate (just go to WebMD and type in “water and fat loss” to pull the relevant articles). As Brigid alluded to in an earlier post, there are also benefits in starting your day with 16 ounces of water. So yeah, water, drink it.

But once you’ve had your fill of H2O, what else does one drink for the benefit of personal performance? I figured a glimpse into my gym day routine might prove insightful, if not entertaining.

At some point before the gym, I drink a bottle of water (~24 ounces) with one Nuun tablet dropped in. What is Nuun , you ask? Let’s allow our corporate overlords, and by that I mean the company that makes Nuun, explain:

Nuun’s special formulation of electrolytes helps increase the amount of water that’s absorbed into the blood stream. That means more of the water you drink is actually used to hydrate you instead of being eliminated because the electrolyte balance wasn’t right. Nuun is not energy. We designed Nuun just for hydration. It’s what we do best!

OK, that sounds good and all, but the proof is in the pee. I’ve found that for me, drinking one of my daily bottles with a Nuun allows me to hold onto a little more water than my body otherwise captures – you can interpret that as you wish. It’s super low calorie, a plus if you’re counting your cals.  It also  tastes different than most hydration beverages. It’s not super sweet, and has a slightly medicinal taste (think Alka-Seltzer, but mellower), but it does add some flavor to the mix. While I do drink water during my workouts, I’ve noticed that my needs during the event go down when I’ve had a Nuun beforehand versus when I forget. Compared to my previous preference, PowerAde Zero, the gains have been notable and I don’t feel like I’m drinking highlighter fluid.

30 minutes before I head for the gym, I down a bottle of BNS Supplements N.O.-Xplode Igniter Shot . In this universe that’s become energy shot obsessed, there’s a lot of competing products when you need that kick of energy to get through a workout. Worth noting here is I’m an ardent coffee drinker, so my caffeine sensitivity is far lower than most people. That said, it takes the energy shot equivalent of a horse tranquilizer for a product to really ramp me up, and this gem does the job.

I don’t know nearly enough about all the bells and whistles that are listed on the label to wax rhapsodic on all of its benefits, but like with Nuun, I go on how I feel, and I feel like an unstoppable gym crushing machine a half hour after this hits the tank. I’ve noticed that I don’t have a pronounced crash from this product, and that my muscle performance during the workout improves – again, I don’t know enough about the nitty gritty to explain that, and heck, it could be utterly psychosomatic. I drink an entire bottle, but the makers suggest starting with a ½ bottle to make sure you won’t get the shakies.

After I’ve made a hot sweaty mess of myself, it’s time to recover with more water and a Muscle Milk . I know, I sound like Captain Meathead. But the 14 ounce ready to drink MM has yet to do me wrong as a recovery drink, and it hits the right notes not only from a protein perspective, but in the added vitamins and minerals that it provides. I found that my prior approach, making a soy-based protein shake from a powder, wasn’t doing as much on the recovery front as I hoped. And while the added milk and whey protein sources means a little more fat in the tank at the end of the day, it’s been well worth it for how my body responds. The variety of flavors keeps me from getting tired of the product, and it’s conveniently available at my local 7-11.

The bottom line is simple, but important: What you drink, and when you drink it, matters. And no two people will have the same needs, goals, or reactions to any single product. You have to try a wide range of products to figure out what works best, and stick with it unless and until you plateau or shift your goals. Adding the right products to your fitness routine can help improve performance and overall gains on your fitness.

QOTD: What do you drink before, and after, a workout?

Disclaimer: Mr. Huzzah has no affiliation with any of these products. No compensation was received for this post. Opinions entirely his own.
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