I didn’t post an update last week to this series, and I feel pretty bad for that. Simply put, I got sick and was unable to do much more than go to the doctor and pray I’d feel better soon. Today is Thursday, and I’m only now beginning to feel significantly better after a week and a half of stomach pain.

It turns out, I got dehydrated. Instead of water, I drank a lot of unsweetened iced tea. Unfortunately for me, tea is a terrible hydration beverage as the caffeine does more to dehydrate you than anything else. What started out feeling like a stomach bug turned out to be dehydration. I was starving myself from everything, even water, because I foolishly thought I was simply experiencing a virus. Instead, it was that lack of fluids that made matters worse.

So, everything from my exercise to my diet suffered over the past two weeks. It’s set me behind quite a bit, and that means I’ll have to work that much harder for the next two weeks to catch up to my goals.

This time wasn’t a total loss, though. I studied other foods and beverages that you should avoid when doing an exercise routine. Here are some of my findings:

Week 7-8 Report
Start — 287.9
Middle — 297.4
End — 287.4
Total Weight Lost (Full Program) — 8.7 Pounds

Caffeinated Teas

Caffeine does a lot more than just wake you up in the morning. It increases your heart rate, acts as a dehydrating diuretic, and tricks your body into going into a panic. Your perceived energy isn’t actually energy at all but a quick release of chemicals by your body in response to the introduction of a stimulant. In the end, you become drained even more and your body has improved not one bit because of it.

Even diet teas don’t help with hydration. Just because you wipe out the calories doesn’t mean that drink is going to be particularly helpful with coupled with an exercise plan.

My downfall was unsweetened tea. Because of the caffeine, it did very little to hydrate me after a workout. I’ve been slowly dehydrating over the past month until my body reached a point where it started to fight back. The result: pain that lasts for days. It sucked, and I don’t want to repeat that process again. From now on, I’m sticking to water and other hydrating fluids.

Creamy Coffee Shop Drinks

There’s nothing I love more than a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino on a hot day in Texas. Unfortunately, this might as well be a milkshake. It’s loaded with sugar, fat, and sodium. These are three things you should be avoiding (or at least enjoying in moderation) during a diet. Drinking your calories is a bad idea, and this is one of the biggest offenders.

Diet Soda

Regular soda is not OK, and pretty much everyone knows that. What many folks don’t know is that diet soda is also a bad beverage choice when dieting and exercising. Not only does this drink not hydrate you, but the jury is still out on the lasting impact aspartame (and other artificial sweeteners) have on the body. You sweat what you drink, and I don’t know many people who find sweating the chemical cocktail that is diet soda very appealing.

You’re also dealing with sodium and caffeine, two problem-causing agents in any exerciser’s diet. Caffeine raises your heart rate, making exercise that much more stressful on the body. Stress does a number of things to counter your diet and exercise, and can lead to overeating as well.

Warm Water

This one might surprise you. Warm water is great if you’re drinking to feel full. It lasts the longest amount of time in your stomach as it doesn’t fire off those reflexes in your stomach muscles the same way as cold water does. Cold water passes through your stomach more quickly, and this means faster absorption and hydration.

That doesn’t mean you should chew ice during your workout either, but it couldn’t hurt to have a nice supply of cool water available to you. Throw an ice cube in your water bottle or use the cold tap rather than the warm. The extra minutes warm water spends in your stomach can mean the difference between proper hydration and that full, uneasy feeling you’ll regret during your workout.

Vitamin-infused Water

Vitamin water is a lot like soda. It contains sweeteners and other fillers that make it taste so good. Unfortunately, the addition of vitamins doesn’t always translate to hydration. Electrolytes are a good thing. They help your body recover from a workout and improves hydration, but these very electrolytes can be countered by sugars and other nonsense present in the beverage.

It doesn’t take much to see what’s really in that fortified sugar water. The second ingredient on Vitamin Water’s nutritional guide is crystalline fructose. That’s the second ingredient after water, meaning it’s the second most abundant in the bottle. What is crystalline fructose? It’s sugar.

If you’re exercising and/or dieting, you should get most of your calories from protein and/or carbs (depending on your diet), but never sugar. Sugar calories are generally not that great for you, especially refined sugars that have been processed to taste better and have no real nutritional value to them beyond making you a little bigger in the mid region.

Question of the Week

My question of the week to you is what do you drink before, during, and after workouts? What is your preferred beverage of choice? If you like water, do you prefer it bottled or out of the tap? Do you have a particular brand that you’d recommend over the rest?

You can answer this question and post some of your own over at LockerGnome.net. As always, OSWL is a community effort that depends on your feedback to grow. It’s intended to help you share and learn from the comments and answers as well as these articles.


Week 0: Will You Join Me?
Week 1: the Rollercoaster
Week 2: the Burn
Week 3: Slow and Steady
Week 4: Always Be Training
Week 5: Hydration is Key
Week 6: Taking Breaks
Week 7-8: Five Drinks to Avoid