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Hydration, and it's importance to fitness.

Image: © KikkyCNX ; Adobe Stock 2024

In a world where anything we would like to consume is seemingly “on tap,” it’s surprising to learn that, as human beings, some of us are failing big time regarding staying hydrated. Fortunately, a new scientific white paper and pilot study from Lucozade Sport, conducted by Oxford Professor Charles Spence, has found a way to boost our regular liquid intake by as much as 80%. So, M&F clinked glasses with the professor to learn more about our need to drink it.

It stands to reason that a beverage company such as Lucozade Sport would seek to understand what drives our desire to take a drink. Still, in a society where overconsumption is the norm, it seems that we have much to learn when it comes to adequately hydrating ourselves. Charles Spence, an experimental psychologist at Oxford University, was tasked with conducting research before the launch of “Lucozade Sport Zero Sugar.” He found that a bottle designed to make the product feel more grabbable was a great way to encourage more drinking. As he continued his work, visual cues seemed to be the real-deal for upping our intake, but why should we be encouraged to drink first?


“Well, there is a stark contrast between water, which would presumably have been the main route to hydration, and the energy-dense foods that we feed ourselves with (these days),” says Spence. “Water doesn’t have a smell or much of a taste. Hence, the lack of sensory cues associated with water might be part of the reason for the problem of getting adequate hydration. By contrast, our brain greatly draws our attention to the smell of energy-dense foods. The evidence suggests that while we may overconsume food if left to our own devices, we do the opposite regarding hydration – systematically underhydrating.”

So many of us aren’t drinking enough, but what? Well, despite the obvious cognitive and performance issues that you’ll face by failing to lubricate your system properly, dehydration is a common cause of hospital admission and is also a common risk factor for kidney stones. In fact, 20 – 30% of American older adults are thought to be dehydrated as you read this. For athletes, the requirement for proper hydration is even greater since we lose so much through sweat. If you are thirsty, the chances are that you are already dehydrated or well on the way.


In addition to grabbable bottles, Spence also found that other sensory cues appear to get us chugging more. During the research, two sets of yoga classes were observed. One class was primed with ‘visual thirst’ prompts; the other was not. The prompts included textual messages, warm colors, and thirst-inducing images such as pouring water or a shot of the desert. When tallied up, those who were exposed to the sensory cues drank 80% more liquid on average. Considering that some studies have suggested that a third of athletes are dehydrated before even working out, these findings could be a game changer as gyms will likely take note and update their decor. And, if you are struggling to drink enough, you could even place your own thirst-inducing images of freshly sliced fruit or arid deserts around the house.

“There is plenty of evidence that food smells can nudge us towards ordering or eating-related foods,” says Spence. “Given the lack of aroma naturally associated with many drinks or waters, then visual cues and/or the sounds of water are likely the way to go. One suggestion from the literature is that the visual appeal of glossy surfaces might be linked to an evolutionary attraction to sources of water or hydration glistening in the sunlight. From all the evidence that I have seen, it is typically the external cues; the smell, sight, and/or sound of food and drink, that prompt us or remind us to eat or hydrate. We know how important staying hydrated is for both physical and cognitive function. “Lucozade Sport Zero Sugar” is packed with Vitamin B3 to help reduce tiredness and electrolytes to help keep active people hydrated and performing well. The drink is a perfect partner for those taking part in exercise classes or just going about their day since we all need to keep hydrated, and the low calories in each bottle make it a good choice for people following any diet.”


Disclaimer: Before engaging in any exercise program, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it aligns with your individual health and fitness needs. The information provided in this program is for general guidance and should not substitute for personalized medical advice. Participants are encouraged to listen to their bodies, modify exercises as needed, and stop any activity that causes discomfort. The organizers and creators of this program are not liable for any injuries or health issues that may arise. By participating, individuals acknowledge their responsibility for their own well-being and assume the associated risks.


This article was written by Michael R. Grigsby, one of the news editors for LCTI, LLC. Michael is passionate about the outdoors, photography, strength sports, bodybuilding, and powerlifting, and he is dedicated to bringing you accurate and insightful news reports on a wide range of topics. He loves connecting with readers and is always happy to answer any questions you may have. If you have any questions about this news article, please feel free to contact Michael or by leaving a comment below.


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