When we’re in need of a little hydration, we probably all reach for a glass of water – it’s the drink that’s best for you, right? Well, a recent study from St Andrews University found that might not be the case.
The study did find that water does a pretty good job of giving us a quick boost of hydration, whether its still or sparkling. However, drinks with a small amount of fat, sugar or protein are better at keeping us hydrated for longer.
Milk Is The Best For Hydration
One of the major factors for how well a drink hydrates you is to do with its nutrient composition. For that reason, milk was found to be more hydrating that plain water. This is because it contains lactose (a sugar), some protein and some fat that help slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach, so you are hydrated over a longer period of time. When drinking a large amount of water however, the fluid is drained quickly from the stomach so it hydrates you straight away, but not for long. Milk also contains sodium, which holds water in the body so less of it is released from the body through urine. The same is true of drinks with electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, which is why many athletes drink these sorts of drinks when they are training.
Steer Clear Of Sugary Drinks
Although the study showed that a little sugar can help, it still doesn’t mean that sugary drinks are the best thing to drink to hydrate. Although the sugar in fizzy drinks or fruit juice means it will spend more time in the stomach and release slower, once these drinks enter the small intestine, their high amount of sugar gets diluted. This process is called osmosis. And it pulls water from the body into the small intestine in order to dilute the sugars. So if the choice is between water or fizzy drinks, always choose water!
Water is still important to drink. Our kidneys and livers depend on it to flush out toxins, and it helps keep our skin elasticated and supple, our joints stay lubricates, prevents infection and carries nutrients to our cells. But if you are working out in warm conditions where you will sweat a lot, reaching for milk or a drink with electrolytes is important to stay hydrated over time.