Avoid Dehydration: Isotonic Drinks

Diet advice
Evitare la Disidratazione: Bevande Isotoniche
Over the course of the day, a regular intake of liquids (especially plain water) accompanied by 5 small portions of seasonal vegetables should be sufficient to prevent all the catastrophic consequences of dehydration, even at the initial stage. It should also be emphasized that a subject practicing intense physical activity will have a greater need to replenish both the liquids lost during sweating, but even more all the mineral salts released. At that point, plain tap water won't suffice. Before, during and after an intensive workout, the athlete must sip specific drinks specially formulated for the reintegration of liquids, salts and energy.

The classification of energy drinks

On the market, on supermarket shelves, or in specific stores, we now find an incredible amount of sports drinks that aim to prevent dehydration. But perhaps not everyone knows that they can be classified into three distinct groups (normally written on the label):
  • HYPOTONIC drinks – they give rapid rehydration, but due to a low carbohydrate content, they do not have a good energy charge
  • ISOTONIC drinks – they give rapid rehydration, and also a good dose of energy
  • HYPERTONIC drinks – give a lot of energy thanks to carbohydrates, but cause severe dehydration

What is the osmolarity of a liquid

It corresponds to the actual number of molecules present in a formulation. When it comes to sports drinks, the particles will represent minerals (also called electrolytes) and carbohydrates (sugars). The osmolarity of human blood (plasma) is between 280 and 330 mOsm per kilogram, and varies according to sugars, proteins and sodium. An ISOTONIC drink will have approximately the same osmolarity as blood, although it varies in content. While the HYTONIC and HYPERTONIC ones will have an osmolarity respectively lower and higher than the human plasma. Why are ISOTONIC drinks preferred? Because by consuming those with low osmolarity (common unenriched tap water), the mineral salts contained in the blood are diluted, and this certainly somehow worsens the already compromised state of an athlete during training or competition. By consuming a high osmolarity drink, on the other hand, all the liquids are conveyed to the intestine, due to the principle of OSMOSIS (see below). This causes severe diarrhea and faster dehydration. Basically, HYTONIC drinks can be taken BEFORE training or competition, ISOTONIC drinks during and HYPERTONIC drinks after effort, to recover energy, only if hydration has remained constant before and during training or competition.

The Herbalife choice


A rehydrating drink must therefore have some fundamental properties in its formulation, but it must also be pleasant in terms of taste (otherwise even the healthiest sportsman would struggle to drink it continuously) and at a slightly refrigerated temperature. Never drink frozen drinks taken directly from the refrigerator! The body should make an effort to heat them and bring them to room temperature, before being able to use them for purposes more consistent with physical effort. Herbalife always has an eye for the prevention of dehydration and excessive loss of mineral salts. An excellent formulation has been created in the Herbalife laboratories, H³O Pro™, an electrolyte drink (therefore rich in salts) and with sufficient carbohydrates to give energy and vigor to the sportsman, before and during training or competition. The osmolarity of H³O Pro™ corresponds to 280-300 mOsm per kilogram which, as mentioned above, is really ideal during physical effort, because it is similar to plasma. This energy drink keeps the levels of liquids, salts and carbohydrates constant in the body. It provides only 137 kcal per sachet and is enriched with vitamins E and C, perfect for preventing oxidative stress.


We hear so much about osmosis, but ultimately, what is it? It is essentially a chemical phenomenon that occurs by contrasting two solutions with different concentrations, where different quantities of a certain substance are dissolved. Between the two solutions there is a kind of thin membrane which however is partly permeable, with microscopic holes which allow a constant passage of liquid particles (water). Through these small pores, however, the other substances cannot pass and remain in their solution. Water has a tendency to move from one side to the other, i.e. from the less concentrated solution to the more concentrated one, in order to re-establish a sort of liquid balance. And that's exactly what happens constantly inside our body; water (but also urea) moves through cell membranes in order to redistribute the right amount of liquid where there is a greater need; however, the molecules of glucose, amino acids and proteins cannot do the same. Here, taking up the example of the HYPERTONIC drink, when there are many carbohydrates that act on the intestinal level, the principle of OSMOSIS will cause the water to move towards the intestine to restore a correct balance. And this certainly does not benefit the athlete, who instead has a constant need for fluids in the muscles and throughout the body in general, not just in the intestines.

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