Hydrate Like A Girl With Osmo


When it comes to hydration, women have a whole other thing going on. Turns out, combating fluid losses may not be a one-size-fits-all proposition. Female physiology shifts with the monthly changes in estrogen and progesterone levels, and those fluctuations have an impact on our ability to hydrate. Plus, research shows that when women drink fluids according to the standard recommendations, they may not reach peak performance—probably because many of those recommendations were developed from tests on college-age guys. Who knew!
“Women are not small men,” says Stacy Sims, Ph.D., exercise physiologist–nutrition scientist. “They’re five times more likely than men to have GI problems when exercising, whether it’s bloating or gas or diarrhea. Women are also more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”
It all has to do with blood volume, says Sims, and for optimum performance, it’s ideal to keep it high. When a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels are high (during the luteal, or premenstrual, phase of her cycle), she loses around 8 percent of plasma volume—the watery part of the blood. The high progesterone also causes a resting rise in core body temperature of about 0.9°F, which can shorten the time it takes her to fatigue (and decrease her heat tolerance).
Sodium levels are also key, because that’s what helps transport water into the blood, but those elevated progesterone levels make this harder: Progesterone fights for the same receptors as aldosterone (the hormone responsible for excreting sodium), which increases the amount of sodium your body kicks out. And if you’re on the Pill or other hormonal birth control? The estrogen and progesterone in your system can be as much as six to eight times higher. So what's a girl to do?
Most of these female-specific fluctuations can be balanced and with the right hydration and smart eating, says Sims. Compared with men, women are more likely to need more sodium—as well as potassium, which works with sodium to get water into our blood—and different sugars to properly rehydrate. Glucose and sucrose are the easiest for us to digest; fructose often causes bloating because the female body has trouble metabolizing it as efficiently.

Start thinking about drinking before your workout. “Try to go into an exercise session feeling hydrated,” says Sims. If you’re gearing up for a high-intensity or endurance-based effort, pre-hydration (filling up anywhere from a few to 24 hours before) is crucial to help increase the sodium balance in your body. Then keep it in check by sipping throughout your workout. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking three to eight ounces of a sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes for workouts longer than 60 minutes, but Sims says it should be based on your body weight. (She suggests five to six milliliters per pound of body weight per hour—the lower end for cool conditions, the upper for warmer temps.)

"That’s a general starting point," says Sims. "It’s personal. If you’re working out for 45 minutes or less, it’s important to drink before and after, but hydration during exercise is not needed unless you’re low on body water to begin with—say, at the end of the day or when you’ve first woken up."

According to Sims, most recommendations for pre-, during, and post-exercise hydration and fueling are based on studies that use 18- to 22-year-old guys. Unlike men, we have high and low hormone phases throughout the month, during which estrogen and progesterone fluctuate, causing slight changes to metabolism, glycogen, and blood plasma levels, all of which affect performance, recovery, and how hard you can push during a workout. That’s why it’s hard to include women as test subjects for sports drinks and products. But by not studying females or only looking at us during a low-hormone phase, scientists and experts are only getting half the story.
When I first heard of Osmo Nutrition I learned that Machines For Freedom had partnered with them offering discounts for their women's line. I was in the market for an electrolyte that didn't upset my stomach and the more research I did, I followed the line back to Sims who is the founder of Osmo and created the women's line to specifically address hormonal challenges. Like many of us, I do feel the impacts of my hormonal fluctuations during my cycle so to help improve my power output and endurance, as well as avoid premenstrual-performance decline, I started using Sim's line of Osmo Nutrition For Women from preload, active, and recovery solutions. Osmo's women's specific line is made with 100% natural ingredients and formulated to counteract with hormonal changes. A bit about each mix:

  • PreLoad Hydration hyper-hydrates, crosses the blood-brain barrier and “counteracts hormone-induced drop in body water,”. It also increases power and endurance, and helps reduce muscle fatigue. Amino acids work alongside sodium to expand total body water, reduce central nervous system fatigue and dampen the breakdown effects of progesterone. This line is pineapple margarita, light salty flavor but not overbearing. I personally believe this one is an acquired taste that I developed into liking (tastes much nicer with a bit of honey added).
  • Active Hydration has a bit more glucose, sodium and potassium to increase power output and improve endurance. With an optimized ratio of glucose to sucrose and greater sodium and potassium levels per serving, it helps to offset reduced plasma volume and higher sodium losses that women experience. A light sweetness and mango flavor. I wanted something that tasted more like water without the sugar phlegmy texture in my throat, this hit the spot.
  • Acute Recovery has more protein and glucose. Women have a shorter acute recovery window – about 30 minutes – so it’s important to refuel shortly after training.  Post-exercise, this drink mix helps shift the woman’s metabolism into recovery mode, promote muscle repair and speed glycogen restoration. A honey and spice flavor, very delicious! I personally like adding this one in warm almond milk.
The bottom line: Woman up when you hydrate and you’ll be able to push through your training, no matter how intense. This is no "shrink it and pink it" product, Osmo products for women are based on scientific studies conducted on women; they uniquely address the needs of female athletes and deliver proven benefits. They haven't failed me yet and keep me strong on days of my period when I need to train. I may not be 100% on top of my effort but I'm definitely performing and recovering quicker than I have been. Thank goodness.

Images 1. @machineforfreedom 

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