Hot Yoga Thirst Quencher

Helen looking sweaty after a hot yoga class

Who is this lady in the image above? Has she just jumped out of the shower? Has she been caught in a sudden downpour? Nope. She’s just put herself through 90 minutes of 40 degree hot26 yoga. A wonderful child-free, stretch beyond the stretch 90 minutes of unimaginably sweaty yoga. But unfortunately I could not clear my mind and focus fully on aligning my chakras. I’m a nerd and I cannot help it. I had questions swirling around that needed answers – how much body weight will I loose in sweat during the class? What carbohydrate percentage would be appropriate for a hot yoga class? Should I ignore the yoga teacher and down my drink in one or will that really be worse for me and make me dizzy? 

Well, after recapping on the science in this area, and putting this into practise in the kitchen and studio I’ve come up with the ultimate Hot Yoga Thirst Quencher. All the science I quote here is from the American College of Sports Medicine position paper on Nutrition and Athletic Performance, which is still the holy grail of sports nutrition. Have a read!

We need to avoid dehydration. Water deficit in excess of 2-3% body mass decreases exercise performance. But the amount we need to drink to avoid this varies from person to person. I personally have the remarkable ability to sweat from literally every pore in my body. Even my thighs were sweating today, and yet the ladies around me seemed to have had more luck with their genes as only a couple of beads glistened on their brows. It’s important not to drink too much as then it just sits in your stomach making you feel uncomfortable, or even worse making you need the loo mid asana. 

So how to judge your sweat rate and hydration needs? The best ways to self monitor hydration are urine colour and body weight. Pre- and post workout urine should be the colour of straw, any darker pre and you’re not drinking enough in the lead up to your workout. Any darker post, and you haven’t taken enough in during. Weight is a shocker. I lost 1.7kg of pure sweat during my hot yoga. Try to weigh wearing the same thing – preferably just underwear as your clothes will hold onto the sweat. Aim to keep you weigh the same, but if you are losing you need to replace every kilo with 1-1.5L fluids. 

It’s recommended to replace carbs during exercise 30-60g/hr especially if exercise is over 60mins, if not eaten well before, or if exercising in an extreme environment (ie heat!). This should be a 6-8% solution for best absorption. Sodium and potassium will replate sweat electrolyte losses, and sodium stimulates thirst and fluid retention. Caffeine can also help in a sports drink, but more for alertness to enhance performance.

But why am I telling you all of this? The nerd that I am, I have already number crunched and taste tested and come up with the perfect sports drink to be taken alongside your workout. Just follow these golden rules for hydration and glug away:

– Monitor your urine colour during the day regularly. Keep a pee chart stuck to your bathroom door. If your urine is darker than straw…. drink more!

– Weight yourself pre and post workout. Drink 1-1.5L water for every 1kg lost. 

– For exercise in extreme heat or lasting over 60minutes add carbs to your drink in a 6-8% solution. Also add electrolytes. Add caffeine to improve alertness. 

So should you drink during hot yoga? Well yes, but it’s up to you and how you tolerate fluids during exercise – this sort of home-made sports drink is specifically designed to be absorbed quickly by the gut, not sit in your stomach like water can. Try it. You may find you’ll need to drink before and after the class rather than during. But absolutely no need for commercial sports drinks, just make your own. recipe right here.

Hot Yoga Thirst Quencher
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  1. 200ml Green tea - brewed for 10min then cooled
  2. 300ml apple juice, unsweetened
  3. 1tsp honey
  4. a squeeze of lemon
  5. 1 pinch salt
  6. a sprinkle of cinnamon powder
  1. prepare the green tea and add honey to dissolve whilst it's still warm
  2. Once cooled add to drinks bottle with all remaining ingredients and give it a shake
  3. Tastes great chilled from an insulated drinks bottle
Nom Nom Nerd

…. and what would the label say?

I think nutrient labels are brilliant. A child can work them out. A quick scan of the front of pack nutrition labelling and you can see if you’re being healthy – green is for GO!, or if you’re being very naughty – red means STOP. However, things are not always so black and white, or red and green as we have here! After running this recipe through the nutritional analysis software we have green for go for fat and salt, but need to stop at red for the sugar content.

It’s true, if you’re going for a 15min stretch followed by a 10min walk on a treadmill at the gym a sports drink – homemade or commercial – is only going to give you unnecessary calories. But if you’re actually breaking out into a sweat from effort, and the workout lasts longer than an hour the sugar is justified and that red for sugar changes to a green for you! Remember nerds, carbs can be your friend, use them to your advantage.

front of pack nutrition labelling