Hydration is Power
Great performance begins with water. Water is what fuels your body, all the way down to the cellular level. Every function your body performs requires hydration, and this is especially true for athletic efforts. If you’re not properly hydrated, your performance will suffer. For example, when you are 2% below your optimal hydration level—which is usually where you are when you start to feel thirsty—your power output will decrease by up to 11%.
What causes this loss of power? Your body produces power through aerobic metabolism. Aerobic metabolism requires oxygen-rich blood to flow to the muscles. As body water drops due to perspiration and respiration, blood “thickens,” which reduces heart-stroke volume. This means that if you don’t start your effort hydrated, you won’t be performing at your best. If you don’t replace body water rapidly during your workout, your heart rate may hold steady (or even rise), but power will drop.
Why Osmolality is Essential
In order to prevent that drop and maximize your power, you need to replace the body water you lose when you sweat. After you swallow whatever you drink, it passes into the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines). It then enters the vascular system as blood plasma, flows into interstitial spaces (the area between cells), and is transported to every cell. The stomach and small intestine are critical organs when it comes to hydration. The stomach’s primary role in this process is to prepare the fluid you’ve consumed to be absorbed in the intestines.
To do this, the stomach ensures that the liquid consumed has a lower osmolality than your blood. Osmolality is a measure of how much solid is dissolved in the fluid. The osmolality of the fluid you ingest needs to be equal to or lower than the osmolality of blood for the intestine to absorb it. If the osmolality of the ingested fluid is too high (meaning there is too much “stuff” dissolved in it) then the liquid will be kept in the stomach. In order to dilute and absorb the liquid, the stomach will draw body water from the bloodstream.
So, to summarize: if the sports drink you ingest has too high of an osmolality, it will sit in your gut and your stomach will use your own body water to absorb it. This is called “reverse flux” and it effectively dehydrates you while slowing gastric emptying, causing GI distress and heaviness. Drinking fluids with optimal osmolalities is crucial to your performance and how you feel overall. The importance of osmolality is why we named our company Osmo, and it’s why we ensured that Osmo Active Hydration has the right osmolality, enabling fast absorption from the gut and quick rehydration during exercise. The osmolality of what you drink is key to your performance.
Hydrate During Exercise
While you’ll need to rehydrate as you exercise, it also helps to start your workout hydrated so you can perform at your best from the get-go. First, rehydrate when you wake up. You lose body water while you’re sleeping, so drinking 16 oz. of water during the first hour you’re awake will help top up your body water. This immediate rehydration refreshes your body and kick-starts your metabolism.
Starting your workout hydrated will help your performance, but drinking too much can cause that unpleasant “sloshing” feeling and weigh you down. Drinking 16 to 20 oz. of Osmo Active Hydration in the 30 minutes before your workout will help you start your effort hydrated and energized.
During your workout, start drinking immediately and continue drinking small sips every 10 minutes or so. Most people, under most conditions, should drink 20-25 oz. of Active Hydration per hour of exercise (roughly one small or large water bottle). Lighter athletes or athletes exercising in cool weather conditions may only require 16-18 oz. an hour. Larger athletes or athletes exercising under hot and humid conditions may require more than 30 oz. an hour. Whatever amount is right for you, drinking Active Hydration throughout your routine will help replace body water as quickly as you lose it.
Recover in the Golden Window
We don’t get stronger when we exercise. We get stronger after we exercise, when our bodies adapt to the stresses experienced during our workout. If you consume the right nutrients (included in Osmo Acute Recovery) during the 30-minute period immediately following exercise—what we call the Golden Window—you will get stronger and more efficient while simultaneously accelerating glycogen restoration.
The three most important things to accomplish during the Golden Window are 1) stopping the body’s exercise-induced catabolic (breakdown) response; 2) taking in high-quality protein to facilitate muscle repair; and 3) restoring the body’s glycogen stores.
Acute Recovery is comprised of a 2:1 protein to carbohydrates ratio with 30mg of caffeine. The protein (whey isolate and micellar casein) shuts down the breakdown from exercise and enables muscle repair. Carbs (dextrose from grape sugar) provide glycogen. The small amount of caffeine combined with carbs and protein has been shown to accelerate glycogen replacement by 66% over carbs and protein alone.
Another important difference between Osmo Acute Recovery and other recovery products is the intentional absence of antioxidants in our product. Research shows that consuming antioxidants within three to five hours following the end of exercise prevents you from gaining all of the physiological adaptations you worked hard for, because the antioxidants reduce the body’s ability to adapt in response to the exercise stress experienced in the mitochondria.
The Acute Recovery mix contains a unique combination of protein, carbs, and caffeine to enable muscle repair while boosting glycogen replacement. The small amount of caffeine in conjunction with carbs and protein has been shown to accelerate glycogen replacement by 66% over carbs and protein alone. Acute Recovery is formulated to make the most of your workout while rehydrating and nurturing your body.
Prepare for Intense Efforts
In situations where you will be losing body water faster than you can replace it (exercising in hot weather, or exercising at high intensity, or for long duration) drink Osmo PreLoad hydration to hyper-hydrate, meaning to go above normal levels of body water. When you drink PreLoad as recommended, you will end up with between 8-11% more blood plasma than normal.
Formulated to boost your plasma levels and sodium stores before you exercise, PreLoad increases blood circulation and helps your body effectively diffuse temperature for better performance and less cramping, even in hot conditions. If you know you will be exercising for a long time with an extreme effort, PreLoad can help prepare you to be hyper-hydrated and delay fatigue and cramping.
Please note that PreLoad is not recommended for everyone; it contains high amounts of salt intended to replace what you lose during extreme, high-intensity sessions. If you have blood pressure concerns, please consult your doctor before adding PreLoad to your routine. PreLoad is meant to be used by athletes who will be undertaking an extremely strenuous effort, particularly in hot conditions that will cause them to sweat copiously.
Hydration Optimized for Women
Throughout the history of sports medicine research (and even primary medical research), study participants have primarily been 18 to 22 year-old-men. Women have been excluded from this human performance research in the past because hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle impact performance. The same fluctuations of hormones that alter physiological responses to exercise, metabolism, recovery, and training that present challenges for researchers can impact female athletes’ abilities to achieve peak performance. Where some researchers saw a challenge, we saw an opportunity to provide hydration and nutrition that would help elite female athletes hit peak performance at any point in their cycle. We developed our Optimized for Women line based on peer-reviewed science, including research done by Dr. Stacy Sims, who developed all our products.
How can hormonal changes impact athletic performance? For starters, estrogen reduces the availability of carbohydrates and increases the amount of fat used for fuel, making high-intensity performance more difficult. Elevated progesterone raises core temperature by 0.5ºC, increasing sodium losses and muscle breakdown while also reducing the body’s ability to rebuild muscle. Furthermore, the combination of elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone drops available plasma volume by 8%, reducing oxygen available for aerobic metabolism. All of these factors can cause a woman’s athletic performance to fluctuate throughout her cycle.
For women who simply want to benefit from better hydration and recovery, it’s completely fine to use the standard Osmo line. The Optimized for Women line was created to empower elite female athletes to feel great and perform their best at any point in their cycle—if every second of race time or every ounce of strength makes the difference for you, the Optimized for Women line is designed to help. if you just want to stay hydrated and bounce back post-workout feeling great, the standard Osmo line will work perfectly for you. Choose whichever option works best for you, and feel free to experiment and see which products from each line make for your optimal routine.