This article is part of the Sunday Runday series.
Parents often turn to Pedialyte to keep kids hydrated when they are battling fever, diarrhea and vomiting. But Abbott Labs, makers of Pedialyte, has recently launched a campaign encouraging adults to “See the Lyte” by drinking the beverage themselves.
Images of athletes with Pedialyte powder packs tucked into running gear or a bottle between running shoes (such as those here taken from Pedialyte US’ Twitter account, suggests that Pedialyte could be the perfect post-run drink for rehydration.
So should runners opt for Pedialyte over water at the finish line?
Jennifer DeRaad, MSN, CNP, a family medicine provider with ProMedica Physicians, says “most dehydration is mild to moderate and can be addressed by just consuming water.” But the drink does have its benefits. “Pedialyte does have the level of sodium and glucose that the World Health Organization recommends for rehydration.” Sports drinks frequently have more sodium and glucose, as well as added potassium.
DeRaad notes that you’d have to be working out pretty hard for about four hours to need to rehydrate at this level. Plus, if you’re aiming for weight loss, the calorie content in Pedialyte and sports drinks is likely to negate the effects of a moderate workout. Yet rehydrating with a drink like Pedialyte enables the body to replenish and retain the fluids and essential electrolytes longer than plain water.
Bottom line: Aim to make water your No. 1 choice for hydration. But Pedialyte could have benefits if you are feeling particularly dehydrated after a long or hot run.
If you feel you would benefit from the electrolyte boost, DeRaad says it’s possible to make a homemade version of Pedialyte using World Health Organization guidelines. Simply combine one liter of water with six teaspoons of sugar and one-half teaspoon of salt.
“Pedialyte includes flavor, which makes it taste better,” says DeRaad. “And the little packets are certainly more convenient.”
The best solution? Prevent dehydration, which can be caused by overexposure to the sun, sweating from exertion, and overheating — all potential challenges for runners, especially in the hot, summer months.
When running outdoors, be mindful of the heat and your exposure to the sun, and monitor your fluid intake. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to hydrate.
How do you stay hydrated before, during and after your run? Share your best practices in the comments.