Debunking 3 Running Dehydration Myths

dehydration and running performance

Myth One: If you don’t have clear wee you are dehydrated.

The fact of the matter is, if your wee is clear, you are likely over hydrating, or you may have kidney problems, diabetes, or other health issues.

Your body is very clever. It can defend itself against dehydration by changing the amount of water it retains. If it is retaining water, then your urine will be darker in colour. And if your urine is darker in colour because your body is retaining water, that can be a good thing. It means your body is working well to remain hydrated. Conversely, if you have more fluids than your body needs, it will rid itself of the extra water in your urine, making it less concentrated. The more we drink, over and above what our needs are, the more we wee, and the clearer our wee will be. Studies that have looked at blood markers of hydration have found the colour of your wee does not necessarily correlate with dehydration (that is, a blood sodium level of over 145 mmol/L.

As far as wee colour goes, something not clear, and not dark as tea, is where you want to be (as long as you have no medical conditions which will effect your hydration status). If you do have persistently dark wee, or persistently clear wee which can’t be explained by the amount you drink, you should see a doctor.

Myth Two: If you don’t drink water during a race, your performance will suffer

Used to be, people would say if you wait until you’re thirsty to drink, it’s too late-you’re already dehydrated and your performance has already been impaired. It seems that the body can cope much better with temporary dehydration than was previously thought. Taking water on board based on how you feel is more important than replacing every drop of fluid you use.

A couple of recent studies highlight this well.

One study had 23 female recreational runners do two 15km time trials, in mild, but humid conditions (68 degrees F/ 20 degrees C,  87% humidity). In one of the trials, they drank 12 oz of water during the run (about 350mls), and in the other they simply rinsed their mouths with water and spat it out, every 3kms.

The results were interesting. The time trial results of the two groups were pretty much the same – the drinking group averaged 79.8 mins and the mouth wash group averaged 79.7 minutes for the 15k. The drinking group sweated more, and the mouthwash group felt thirstier after the run. The study also looked at a group of responses called “affective responses”, which looked at things like pleasure, arousal, energy, calmness and tension. Again, the responses were fairly similar on most measures, but the mouth wash group did report more tension.

So, under these conditions the runners didn’t need to consume water to maintain performance. Note that the temperature was fairly mild. It’s not at all unusual in Australia to be running in much hotter temperatures. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t drink if you feel like you need to. I am suggesting that we don’t need to drink as much as we think we do, and if your gut feels like it can’t handle any more water, you could just try rinsing and spitting instead. You might actually be better off pouring the water over your head to cool you off!

A 2010 study (sponsored by gatorade) compared runners over a series of four trail runs. One group drank 200mls of water in the 22 hours prior to the runs, and no water during the runs, and the other group went into the runs well hydrated, and drank during each run. The results showed impaired performance for the non drinkers. Note that these runners with impaired performance started the run already dehydrated, as compared to the other studies which were done with runners who had normal hydration levels prior to the experiment.

Myth Three: Loss of body weight during a run means you are dehydrated and your performance suffers

Changes in body weight when you are exercising hard are not only caused by fluid loss. You burn fuel when you run, and when that fuel is used up, then you weigh less. As your race or training run progresses and you use up stored carbohydrate and fat your weight will drop. Not only that, as you burn calories during your run, you’ll also be liberating some water, which becomes available to you body. Another fact to consider is that as you lose body weight during a run due to fuel burning and fluid loss, your lighter weight will enable you to run faster – up to a certain point of course.  You don’t want to deliberately dehydrate yourself in a bid to lose body weight to help you run faster!  I’m just saying that all these little things add up to going some way to explaining why reduced body weight is not the best predictor of performance. The purpose of drinking during exercise is to keep your blood plasma levels stable, not to keep your body weight stable.

A 2016 study had well trained athletes run a 20k time trial in the heat. One group drank as much as they wanted to during the run, the other drank a set amount of fluids based on pre-determined individual needs, designed to replace as much of their sweat loss as possible.

The “drink when you want” group lost 2.6% of their body weight, whilst the well hydrated group lost only 1.3% of their body weight during the time trial. As you’d expect, the group who were drinking deliberately lost less body weight than the “drink when you want” group. Nothing to see there. But here’s what’s interesting. The performance of the groups was very similar. The hydrated runners averaged 1:44:39, and the “drink when you want” runners averaged 1:44:09. There was no difference in core temperature between the two groups at any point.

Haile Gebreselassie, one time marathon world record holder and all out running legend lost 9.8% of his body weight when he won the Dubai marathon in 2009. One study looked at the fluid intake of 9 major city marathon winners, and 1 second place getter.  It showed a body weight loss of between 6.6% and 11.7%, including including Gebreselassie’s 9.8% loss in 2009. Seems you can get some pretty good results, even if you lose quite a bit of weight during a race!

A Few Tips on Hydration

  1. Drink water when you are thirsty, all of the time, not just when you are running. That way you’ll go into a run well hydrated.
  2. For runs of 60 minutes or less, it seems you probably don’t need to drink much, if at all, unless the conditions are hot and humid. What feels “hot and humid” to you will depend on the weather conditions you are used to running in, your age, and your body size and composition.
  3. Experience will help you find the ideal hydration strategy for you. Around 500mls of water each hour once your runs are longer than 60 mins is a good starting point.
  4. Drink when you are thirsty during your run – water availability permitting. You might find you have to be a bit flexible on this if you are not carrying water with you.
  5. Choose a route where you know there will be water available to you, or do a loop course and stash a water bottle somewhere, or leave it in your car.
  6. If you plan to carry fluid with you in a race, it’s a good idea to train with what you are going to carry to get used to how it feels.

DISCLAIMER: Any information contained in this document is obtained from current and reliable sources and is solely for the purpose of interest and information.  Individuals receiving this information must exercise their independent judgment in determining its appropriateness for their particular needs. The information and training advice is general in nature and may not be suited to the recipient’s individual needs. Medical advice should always be sought when starting an exercise program. As the ordinary or otherwise use(s) of this information is outside the control of the author, no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, is made as to the effect(s) of such use(s), (including damage or injury), or the results obtained. The author expressly disclaims responsibility as to the interpretation of the views contained in this article, ordinary or otherwise. Furthermore, the author shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. The author shall not be responsible for any damages resulting from use of or reliance upon this information. Readers of this document are solely responsible for compliance with all laws and regulations applying to the use of the information, including intellectual property rights of third parties.

5 Ways to Stop Food Turning To Fat

stop christmas dinner turning to fat

Would you eat 20 chicken nuggets, 12 Paddle Pops, or 5 bowls of fruit loops in one sitting? Probably not, but you might drink 4 gin and tonics, or 4 bourbon and cokes at your next Christmas party.  And the amount of calories they yield is around about the same. 

Add to that the extra snacks we all tend to eat along with alcohol, you might be taking on board a whole extra day’s worth of calories in one Christmas party if you’re not careful.  

But as a runner, you don’t want to pile on a couple of extra kilos at Christmas time, only to have to carry it round the course with you in your next event. So what to do? 

The answer is definitely not to stop partying!!

Five tips to help minimise the impact of all that Christmas cheer. 

  • Plan to have only a few days on which you really overdo it 
  • On Christmas morning, go for a medium length run (60 minutes or more) and a moderate intensity, and include some faster efforts.  
  • Do daily bouts of vigorous activity
  • Exercise within 1 hour of eating your big Christmas dinner
  • Don’t pig out on treats like Christmas chocolates, just to “get rid of them”, or “get them out of the house”

And if you’d like to know more of the science behind why following these simple guidelines will work, read on.

Plan to have only a few days on which you really overdo it

If you’re going to overeat, do it properly. Really satisfy your desire for gluttony. Eat like a pig once or twice and be done with it. You’re far more likely to be able to resist those extra dips and chips and other stuff people offer you if you know you’ve already had a blow out. You won’t feel so much like you are depriving yourself.

Eat less at the meals you aren’t planning to really go for it. And definitely don’t have two blow out days in a row. Your body can handle some extra calories occasionally, but if you don’t have a break from overindulging, the extra energy just won’t be used up.

On Christmas morning, or before any planned pig-out, go for a 60+ minute medium effort run and include some efforts at a higher intensity

The aim here is to deplete your muscles of glycogen before you eat. If you can manage to get this workout in before you eat breakfast, all the better. 

When you eat, carbohydrate is broken down into simple sugars, moves into the bloodstream, and insulin is used to shunt the sugars out of your blood. From the blood it is used by the brain, stored in the liver, and stored in your muscles in the form of glycogen. Once these storage areas are full, then it is stored as fat. 

So, if you deplete your muscles of glycogen before you eat, there’ll be more room in the muscles to store the glycogen from the carbohydrate that you eat. It’ll be stored here ready to be released next time you need energy. If your glycogen storage silos are already full when you start eating, then more of the carbs you take in will be store as fat. 

If you know you’re going to be eating a big meal on Christmas day, it would be ideal to go for a run  on Christmas morning, and then eat very little, or not at all, until the main event. If you can’t get out on Christmas morning, go out as late as you can on Christmas Eve, and eat very little till your main meal on Christmas day. 

Do daily bouts of vigorous activity 

Overeating and inactivity is associated with alterations in the expression of certain genes in fat tissue. Unfortunately, it’s also associated with the holiday period!

Research published in the Journal of Physiology in December 2013 showed that daily vigorous exercise bouts could counteract the effect of short term overeating and under activity, with respect to alterations in gene expression and the effect this has on metabolism. 

This applied even though the vigorous activity undertaken by research participants meant they had a positive energy balance – ie they still took more calories in than they expended in exercise. The groups ran on a treadmill for about 45 mins at about 70% of their maximum capacity, so it was quite vigorous exercise for a reasonable period of time, but if you have the fitness under your belt to be able to do that, go for it.  Even if you can’t manage a 7/10 effort for 45 minutes every day, doing some vigorous activity on most days is going to help keep your waistline trim.

Exercise within an hour or two of eating your big Christmas dinner

If you’re planning a Nanna nap on Christmas afternoon, think again. Once you’ve taken in all that extra energy, you want to use as much of it as you can whilst it’s still circulating in the blood stream, and before it gets shunted into the body’s long term storage silos – adipose tissue, more commonly known as fat. 

Researchers at Oxford University found that after a large meal containing 30gms of fat, two to three teaspoons of fat can be added to the waist very quickly. The first fat from any meal enters the blood about an hour after you eat. After around three hours, most of that fat has been incorporated into adipose tissue around the waist. Pretty much, the fat circulates in the blood stream and is “caught” opportunistically by the fat cells around the waist – if fat is floating past in the circulating blood, it’ll be nabbed by the fat storage cells around the waist. Then if it’s not used quickly enough, the fat isn’t mobilised for energy, and goes into longer term storage around hips and bum.

A game of backyard cricket, a trip to the beach, or a long walk will serve you well if you’re trying not to put on extra weight. This post meal exercise can be lower intensity-as your body will prefer to use fat for energy at a lower intensity – which is a bit of a bonus. Who wants to work hard with a tummy full of Christmas pud?

Don’t pig out on treats like Christmas chocolates, just to “get rid of them”, or “get them out of the house”

Let’s be real here. Chocolate doesn’t fill you up-it just makes you feel good. It’s not going to stop you from being hungry for the rest of the day. If you eat all your Christmas chocolate at once, just because you want to get rid of it and then start being “good”, chances are, you’re not going to take in less calories at the next meal to counterbalance the extra calories from the chocolate.

Eating an extra 500 calories from any food source, in any one day, is likely to put you into energy excess, and that’s how you put on weight. Much better to have one or two chocolates a day until they’re finished, or just chuck them out. There’s no rule that says you have to eat something just because it’s there!

P.S. You can find out just how man calories are in your favourite alcoholic drink here

5 Quick and Easy Barbecue Recipes


Tandoori Chicken

So quick and easy. You just need to plan far enough ahead to marinate the chicken for a couple of hours before cooking.

Grilled Oyster Shooters

Grilled Oyster Shooters

Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Vinegar

Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Vinegar

For a variation on this one, try chopping the vegetables into chunks and threading onto a skewer along with some halumi.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Strawberry Spinach Salad

I haven’t tried this one, but it looked so interesting I had to throw it in!

Refreshing Watermelon Salad, with Feta Cheese and Olives

Quick and Healthy Barbecue Recipe 1

This one has become a personal favourite of mine since discovering it a couple of years ago.

Easy Bar-B-Q Tandoori Chicken




  • Pataks Tandoori Paste ( this seems to work better than other brands)
  • Full Cream Plain Yoghurt
  • Chicken Thigh Fillets (using things will ensure a more succulent finished product)


  1. You can prepare the chicken in two ways. Either keep the thigh fillets whole, if you’re serving them as part of a sit down meal, otherwise you can cut into bit-size strips which go down very well as finger food.
  2. Prepare the tandoori paste as directed on the jar.
  3. Add the chicken. Marinating overnight gets best results, but a couple of hours will do it.
  4. Heat the barbecue plate so it is really hot when you add the chicken to seal in the juices.
  5. Put the chicken on the barbecue plate. Turn as needed. I like to cook so that parts of the chicken are just barely beginning to turn charred.

Serve with lemon wedges, and sprinkled with coriander.



7 Food Labelling Tricks

Are you being duped by food marketing?

Fat free and 100% natural: seven food labelling tricks exposed

Sandra Jones, University of Wollongong

If you’re confused by food labels, you’re not alone. But don’t hold your breath for an at-a-glance food labelling system that tells you how much salt, fat and sugar each product contains. Australia’s proposed “health star rating” labelling scheme was put on hold in February, following pressure from the food industry. And it’s unclear whether the scheme will go ahead.

Marketers use a variety of tricks to make foods seem healthier and more appealing than their competitors, particularly when it comes to products aimed at children. One of the most powerful advertising tools a food manufacturer has is the packaging, as it’s what we look at immediately before deciding which food to purchase.

Next time you’re shopping for food, look out for these seven common labelling tricks:

The colour of food packaging can influence our perceptions of how healthy a food is.

A recent study found consumers’ perceptions of two identical chocolate bars were influenced by the colour of the nutrition label; despite the identical calorie information, people perceived the one with the green label to be healthier.

Another tool of savvy food marketers is the use of “ticks” and “seals” that we subconsciously process as indicating that the product has met some form of certification criteria.

A recent study found that nutrition seals on unhealthy food products increased perceptions of healthiness among restrained eaters. And a study with parents of toddlers found 20% of parents identified the presence of a quality seal as one of the reasons for their purchase of toddler formula rather than cow’s milk.

Food packaging often contains words that imply the food contains certain ingredients, or has been prepared in a way, that makes it healthier (or at least better than similar foods).

But many of the words – such as “healthy” or “natural” – have no legal or formal meaning. While the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code regulates the use of specific health and nutrient content claims, it doesn’t regulate or define these loose terms.

“Weasel claims” describe modifiers that negate the claims that follow them. This allows manufacturers to avoid allegations of breaching advertising or labelling regulations, while being such a commonly used word that it is overlooked by the consumer.

For example, Activia “can” help to reduce digestive discomfort – but did you read the fine print? It “can” help if you eat it twice a day and “… as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle”.

Similarly, Berri Super Juice contains antioxidants which “help” fight free radicals (but so does whole fruit, which also contains more fibre).

Unfinished claims tell us the product is better than something – but not better than what. In food labelling, we really have to hunt for the “what”.

Fountain’s Smart Tomato Sauce still contains 114mg of salt per serving, while the brand’s regular tomato sauce contains 186mg (more than several other brands).

The Heart Foundation defines low-salt foods as those with less than 120mg per 100g; Fountain’s Smart tomato sauce has 410mg per 100ml. It does, however, have less sugar than many of its competitors.

So, if you are trying to reduce your sugar intake it may be a good choice, but if you are trying to reduce your sodium intake, look for one of the low-salt varieties and read the label very carefully (reduced is rarely synonymous with low).

Smiths’ Thinly Cut potato chips contain 75% less fat than “chips cooked in 100% Palmolein Oil”. But they don’t contain less fat than Original Thins, Kettle, or most other brands on the market.

It’s also worth taking a close look at the recommended serving size – in both cases the nutrition information is based on a 27g serving, but Smiths’ “single serve” pack is 45g (15.7g fat; one-fifth of an average adult’s recommended daily intake, or RDI).

A common strategy is to list a claim that is, in itself, completely true – but to list it in a way that suggests that this product is unique or unusual (when in reality it is no different to most foods in that category).

“All natural” and “no artificial colours and flavours” are appealing features for parents looking for snacks for their children. But most standard cheeses (including many packaged products such as cheese slices) also contain no artificial colours of flavours.

This is not to suggest that Bega Stringers are a bad product or that you shouldn’t buy them – just that you may want to think about the cost per serve compared to other cheeses that are equally healthy.

Like most lolly snakes, Starburst snakes are “99% fat free”. The old adage of “salt-sugar-fat” holds here; products that are low (or absent) in one are typically very high in another. In the case of lollies, it’s sugar.

As with the potato chips above, serving size is important. Those of us who can’t resist more than one snake might be surprised to realise that if we ate half the bag, we would have consumed two-thirds of our daily sugar intake (although we can’t blame the pack labelling for that!).

Sun-Rice Naturally Low GI White Rice illustrates this use of technically correct claims. Let’s start with “cholesterol free” – this is totally true, but all rice is cholesterol free.

The pack also states in very large, bright blue letters that it is “Low GI”. In much smaller letters that almost disappear against the colour of the package is the word “naturally”. This use of different colours to attract, or not attract, attention is a common marketing technique.

The product is indeed low GI, at 54 it is just below the cut-off of less than 55. But the “naturally” refers to the fact that what makes it low GI is the use of basmati rice rather than another variety, and other brands’ basmati rice would have a similar GI.

Berri Super Juice proudly, and truthfully, claims it “contains no added sugar”. You may conclude from this that the sugar content is low, but a closer look at the nutrition information label may surprise you – a 200ml serve of this super juice contains 25.8g of sugar (29% of your recommended daily allowance).

While contentious, some have even suggested that there is a link between fruit juice and both obesity and metabolic disease, particularly for children. A better (and cheaper) way of obtaining the fruit polyphenols is to eat fruit.

Healthy sounding words are not only used as “claims” but are often used as brand names. This first struck me when I was looking for a snack at my local gym and noticed the “Healthy Cookies” on display; they had more sugar, more fat and less fibre than all of the others on sale (Healthy Cookies was the brand name).

Brand names are often seen as a key descriptor of the nature of the product. Research has found that people rate food as healthy or unhealthy based on pre-existing perceptions of the healthiness of a product category or descriptor, particularly among those who are watching their diet, and may thus select the unhealthier option based on its name or product category.

If, for example, you’re watching your weight, you may be attracted to the Go Natural Gluten Free Fruit & Nut Delight bar, assuming that it will be a healthier choice than a candy bar. But you might be surprised to note that it contains 932 kJ (11.0% of your RDI) and a whopping 13.6g of fat (10% of your RDI).

A 53g Mars bar contains slightly more calories (1020kJ) but a lot less fat (9.1g), although the Go Natural bar could argue for “healthier” fat given the 40% nut content.

So, can we really distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods by looking at the wrappers?

The healthiest wrappers are made by nature, from the simple ones that can be eaten after washing (like apples and carrots) to those that need some disposal (like a banana or a fresh corn cob).

If you are buying your food wrapped in plastic or paper, it’s a little more complex. We need to see past the colours, pictures and cleverly-crafted claims and take a careful look at the ingredients and nutrition panel.

The Conversation

Sandra Jones, Professor and Director of the Centre for Health Initiatives , University of Wollongong

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

3 Ways to Make Your Champagne Healthier

mango and passionfruit champagne

With all this heat, it’s hard for a girl to keep her drinks cold. Here are 3 “healthy” ways to keep your drinks on ice.

Mango and Passionfruit Champagne

Freeze the pulp two large mangoes and 12 passionfruit. You’ll need approximately 3 icecube trays.

Allow to freeze overnight.

Place an icecube in champagne flute, and pour over champagne.

Grape Ice Blocks

Grape Iceblocks are great for cooling wine

We had drinks at a neighbour’s house recently on a very hot afternoon. To keep our drinks cold, our hostess tossed a frozen grape or two in our wine!

Popsicle With A Twist

popsicles with a twist

This recipe gives an adult twist to our fruit popsicle recipe. Make sure you’re very clear with your kids that these are definitely not for afternoon tea!

2 cups watermelon puree (about 1/4 to 1/2 a SEEDLESS watermelon)
3 cups Champagne
/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 peach or nectarine, diced small

Cut the watermelon into chunks and then puree it in a blender until smooth.

Set out about 1 dozen popsicle molds (amount needed will vary depending on size of molds). Fill each one with the chopped fresh fruit.

Combine the Champagne with the watermelon puree, then pour into molds until each is full to the top. Place a popsicle stick into each one. Place into your freezer and freeze for about 6 to 8 hours.

When ready to serve, run the popsicle molds under warm water for a few seconds and then pull each one out. Enjoy!

What’s a standard drink?

Remember alcohol should be a “sometimes food” not an “every day food”, and you should be aware of guidelines around the consumption of alcohol. You should also know what a standard drink looks like in today’s oversized wine glasses. Take a look at this video demonstrating standard drinks in modern wine glasses.

Simplest Ice Cream Recipe Ever

Simplest Ice Cream Recipes Ever

Of course we rarely ever eat ice cream in our house… but when we do, we definitely make the most of it with the simplest ice cream recipe ever. You can add whatever flavour you like to the base of cream and sweetened condensed milk. Here are some of our favourites.

This is definitely a sometimes food!!

Coffee Icecream

The original, and some in our household say the best!


  • 1 * 600 ml thickened cream
  • 1* 400 gm tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons chicory and coffee essence (taste after the first tablespoon and add more to taste)


  • Beat all the ingredients together-using a handheld electric mixer is simplest – you can mix it in the bowl you’re going to serve the ice cream in, as long as you can cover it in the freezer.
  • Place in the freezer, take out and re-beat every 1-2 hours to prevent it from going icy-depends a bit on how quickly your freezer freezes.
  • Make sure you go out for a run between beatings to make room for those extra calories you’ll be packing in!

Berry Ice Cream

Substitute the coffee and chicory essence for a mix of your favourite berries. Make sure you blend the berries first so the flavour.

You’ll need to be vigilant about beating whilst the ice cream is freezing. Due to the water content of the berries, it does have a tendency to ice up.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Split a vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and add to the cream and sweetened condensed milk. I also chopped the pod roughly into big pieces and threw that in, but be careful not to serve anyone these pieces. I haven’t tried it, but I think it would work best if you leave the mixture in the fridge for an hour or 2 before freezing, to let the vanilla bean seeds infuse the creamy mixture with their aromatic flavour.

It’s a toss up between vanilla bean and chili choc for my favourite.

Chili Choc Ice Cream

You can buy bars of Lindt dark chocolate and chili, but when I made this mixture, I didn’t find it hot enough. The combination of the dairy and the cold temperature has a rather cooling effect on the fiery chili. I usually add heaps of chopped chili to the chocolate mix.

Melt dark chocolate – I just used a regular chocolate bar, not cooking chocolate, chop some chili -your spice tolerance will determine how much chili and whether or not you chuck in the seeds. Mix with the cream and sweetened condensed milk.

Pine Lime Ice Cream

Add crushed pineapple (very well drained if you are using a tin) and lime cordial or lime flavouring to the cream mixture, and you have your very own splice. Another one which requires quite a bit of blending during the freezing process, both to prevent it from icing up, and to stop the pineapple from settling on the bottom.

There’s almost a limitless number of variations on this amazingly simple ice cream recipe. Have some fun, and create.