Your Life, Simplified

The Hydration Sensation…An Often-Overlooked Key to Wellness

May 4, 2021

Proper hydration is essential to our overall well-being, especially after being physically active. Whether a professional athlete or a weekend warrior in your local gym, your body needs to rehydrate in order to recover. We invite Anthony Wolfe MS, a senior scientist at Gatorade Sports Science Institute, to share how hydration – whether water or a sports drink – is essential in staying healthy and keeping your muscles, including your brain, in top shape. Plus, he explores the science behind what a sports drink provides over water.

Jack Giardino: 

Hello everybody, and welcome back to another episode of Your Life, Simplified. My name is Jack Giardino, and I’ll be the host for this episode. For this topic of discussion today, we’re going to be discussing hydration, water, or the elixir of life and your favorite sports drink, Gatorade. But before we get into that content, just want to kind of cover a few basics and how we stumbled upon this conversation and how we’ve been able to get a wonderful guest, Anthony Wolfe, on with us. If you all haven’t listened to Episode 46, we were able to interview Hailey Wagner with Athletes Unlimited. And that’s really how I met Anthony or came into contact with Anthony and both our respective firms, Mariner Wealth Advisors and Gatorade are sponsors of Athletes Unlimited. And I just want to give a quick plug to them. What they have going on there is truly amazing. So, if you haven’t heard of Athletes Unlimited or you want to learn more, go check out Episode 46 or just a quick Google search should lead you to their website with a lot of information. So now that I’ve covered that, let’s go ahead and dive into today’s conversation. So, as I previously mentioned, we’re going to be discussing hydration and water, and at least for me, one of my favorite sports drinks, Gatorade, with Anthony Wolfe. So, Anthony, thanks for taking the time out of your busy week to join us here on Your Life, Simplified

Anthony Wolfe: 

Yeah. Thanks. Appreciate you having me on. 

Jack Giardino: 

You bet. Yeah. If you don’t mind just giving a quick background about yourself to our listeners, maybe how you got to become a part of the a senior scientist with Gatorade Sports Science Institute and your path to everything hydration and what pulled you in that direction. 

Anthony Wolfe: 

So I think like probably a lot of people who are involved in the sports world, my passion started off because I was an athlete myself—growing up playing multiple sports and things like that and eventually found myself playing NCAA ice hockey in college. And you get to that level, it’s pretty competitive. I found out that I probably wasn’t the best or even one of the better players on the ice anymore. So, I found myself, I was studying exercise science at the time, with a lot more time on my hands, and I really delved into the science and research. I figured if I can’t be the best myself, why not figure out how I can help someone else be the best. So that led me through undergraduate and then eventually on to a master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin. And that’s really where passion and research really turned into more of a career and a focus and the things that we do at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. So, probably not a lot of people have heard of GSSI. And our reason for being is really to help ensure, the slogan, the AC all the time, Gatorade backed by science. Well, we help ensure that Gatorade is in fact backed by science. 

Jack Giardino: 

You are the science, so to speak. 

Anthony Wolfe: 

So to speak. Yes, certainly. We do a lot of external commissioning of work as well, but there’s a team of about 30 of us now spread around the globe who really do a lot of the science that backs Gatorade. We also lead some of the science that helps shape some of the sports nutrition work and conversations and things like that. 

Jack Giardino: 

That’s wonderful. Before we get into your day to day, I have to ask you, ice hockey? You’re in Texas now, were you always in Texas? I didn’t know they had ice rinks down there, but I just had to ask. Where’d you grow up, and how’d you get on the ice? 

Anthony Wolfe: 

So I’m originally from South Bend, Indiana, technically Granger, but nobody’s ever heard of that. South Bend because it’s Notre Dame. So I originally grew up in Indiana. Just happened to have a neighbor who was already into hockey. That’s how I got started and just progressed from there. I did my undergraduate at Hamlin University, which is in St. Paul, Minnesota. And then that’s when everything faltered, and I ended up in Texas for school, so faltered in my athletic career, we’ll put it that way. 

Jack Giardino: 

Could you maybe elaborate a little bit more to our listeners, what does it look like day in and day out being a part of the GSSI team and what are you actually doing? What type of science are you conducting? How do you go about doing those studies and what’s your role look like within all of that’s going on with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute? 

Anthony Wolfe: 

Well I’d probably maybe say, we can characterize the research that GSSI into maybe three broad buckets. Athlete characterization is probably one of them, something that we’ve done as an Institute for about three decades, dating all the way back to the founding of GSSI in 1985. That’s essentially testing athletes in the lab, on the field, on the court, the track, the road even, and trying to really understand, what’s their sport, what are the sports-specific demands, the environment. And then, how does the athlete respond to those demands? And once you have an understanding of those, you can move to actual recommendations for sports nutrition fueling, right? Which is what Gatorade’s really all about. So, things like, what ingredients make up sports nutrition or sports beverages and those specific benefit areas. And you can really even break that down to there’s the hydration bucket, where we have tons of experience. And that’s really been the core of our work since probably the mid-80s. And then you get into those ingredients and benefit areas. And how specifically those tie into athlete performance and recovery. We’re even starting to dabble a little bit into sleep as well, but I would say a lot of that is taking something, developing it in a lab setting, testing an athlete in a lab setting, does this help their performance on a treadmill or on a stationary bike, and then taking that product that we’ve developed to the field and testing it in athletes during either their actual competitive environment or in a simulated competitive environment, once you have that understanding of the demands on that athlete. 

Jack Giardino: 

And I think just through some of our previous conversations, it sounds like you all bring that type of science to the consumer with some of the sweat patch that you all just introduced and the app technology, which we’re going to get into all of that later. It sounds like there’s a lot going on within your division and at Gatorade. Well, so I think most listeners who are probably tuning into this episode right now probably aren’t professional athletes. If you are, that’s awesome, but one thing we try to do here at Mariner Wealth Advisors is really just the title of the podcast, right? How can we simplify our clients’ lives? Not only just the wealth management side of things, but everything from, nutrition and exercise and staying healthy through the pandemic both physically, mentally and different things like that. I think one thing that may get missed often when people think of exercise and staying healthy and simplifying your life is hydration. Could you just maybe dive in, why is hydration so important besides just being really the elixir of life, but what are benefits of staying hydrated and what should people think about comparing water to drinking Gatorade? Why may you approach one or decide to drink one instead of the other, and just that kind of general topic of hydration, if you don’t mind? 

Anthony Wolfe: 

For starters, blood is about 50% water with the other 50% being cells and things like that. So, we can think of the plasma as basically being water and then various types of cells and things like that as the other 50%. But essentially, you need all that blood to flow to your vital organs, muscles, skin and even your brain. So without the appropriate amount of water, we’re limiting that flow, right? So, that’s just one part of it, but hydration is also important for athletic performance and regulating body temperature as well. We dissipate heat through sweat, and you have to have enough water in your system to sweat. And if you can’t, that’s a problem as well, but really water is an important nutrient for the body and various body components and systems or parts to be able to function properly. It’s a critical medium for the transportation of key nutrients to wherever they need to go. It’s also a vital medium to remove waste products from the body, through your kidneys and urine. And we also know that just not having enough water on board increases fatigue and tiredness, can impair attention and motor coordination. And that’s just everyday life. That’s not even in working out. In certain extreme cases, dehydration has been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones, and those people who are chronically dehydrated usually in instances of like, physical labor or if you’ve been out doing things in a hot environment. But yeah, so it’s pretty wise to stay properly hydrated to minimize all of those things. And you mentioned that the pandemic, at times like these, it can be even more crucial when we’re focused on other things. 

Jack Giardino: 

That’s wonderful. And I think, again, as I previously mentioned, it’s something that maybe we all don’t focus on enough. I’m thinking of this from a listener standpoint of view as, “I drink my water, or I drink my pop, or I drink this or that throughout the day. What does it mean to truly be properly hydrated?” I know it’s probably not drinking 12 cans of soda every day. What should be going into that decision of deciding, do I drink water? Do I drink a sports drink such as Gatorade, or how do I make those decisions to make sure I am staying properly hydrated?  

Anthony Wolfe: 

Without exercise, typically the USDA provides general guidelines for adequate intake for water. And that’s probably a lot more than people usually would recognize. So for, for men, it’s about 125 ounces per day. And for women, it’s about 91 ounces per day. Now we get about 20% of our total water from foods that counts toward our water intake. So, I’m not saying you need to drink 125 ounces of water. 

Jack Giardino: 

Carry that gallon jug with you. It’d be refilling it at work folks, right?  

Anthony Wolfe: 

And those are guidelines too, right? There’s no real one size fits all answer. It can vary around body size, even without too much physical activity, your blood needs might vary based on the climate, right? You’re just saying it’s snowing there. In southern Texas, it’s probably around 80-90 degrees. If somebody’s just in that climate, things like that are going to be important factors for how much we need to drink on a daily basis. For signs and symptoms of dehydration, there’s typically three practical things that we focus on, and you think of things like thirst, how thirsty am I? That’s a good one. My urine color and the frequency that I need to pee. And then body weight. Typically, it’s best to consider all three of those together rather than individually, because they all have kind of limitations and how effective they are at any given point, especially in real-world situations, we’re not in a controlled laboratory or doing a research study, but generally a sensation of thirst is kind of your body’s signal to you that your blood is concentrated due to a decrease in body water, and kind of think of it like your brain telling you that you need to bring on board water to restore normal concentration levels in your blood plasma.  

Similarly, our body tries to limit fluid loss through urine. So the frequency and the volume of the urine will both decrease throughout the day if we’re dehydrated and the color will likely go from kind of a light lemonade type colors, what we usually say, to a dark almost apple juice like color. And when we’re talking athletes, it’s usually the terms that we use lemonade and apple juice. Pretty easy to understand. And then finally, more specifically around maybe exercise-induced dehydration, but we could do it a little bit just in general daily living, but it can be monitored through body weight loss. So if we’re talking specifically about exercise, typically the only thing that we’re going to be losing during exercise is sweat. So, if I were to weigh myself before exercise ideally, nude or with minimal clothing, let’s say I go through a workout. I’m running on the treadmill or something. And then I towel dry myself off, hop on the scale, weigh myself again, and let’s say I lost three pounds. Well, if I haven’t done anything between the time that I weighed myself before and the time I weighed myself after that exercise, then I can assume that what I’ve lost is just sweat. So, I’ve lost three pounds in sweat, which is quite a bit of fluid.  

Jack Giardino: 

I think that’s a perfect segue. You’re discussing sweat and how you monitor athletes, both professional athletes and then just individuals like myself who work out and try to stay healthy. Sweat can be one of the primary factors or things that we should be paying attention to in order to stay hydrated. I know Gatorade, they’re doing a lot of great work and introducing all different types of technologies, but two things that have really stood out to me lately is, really the sweat patch that they just introduced and brought to the market, as well as the app technology that links into the sweat patch. So if you wouldn’t mind, would you just want to give us kind of a broad overview of that new technology that they are introducing to consumers, both between the sweat patch and the app technology to help individuals like myself and professional athletes stay hydrated? 

Anthony Wolfe: 

It might be a little bit better to get into kind of what a general sweat test is, and then why it’s super cool that we came out with this this new patch technology that’s really taking what we do with athletes to a whole new level with everybody else and the everyday exerciser. So, the method that we’ve used in the field for probably the past 20 years is what we call the regional patch technique. And it’s basically like a little pad with a sticky covering that’s about the size of a medium band-aid. We have athletes wear that on their forearm during exercise. And then after exercise, we remove that after it’s collected a bunch of sweat, we put it in a tube, and then we put that tube in a centrifuge, which spins really, really fast and pulls all the liquid out of the patch. And then we analyze that sweat sample that came out of the patch using a benchtop ion chromatography, or if we’re in the field we’ll use something more portable, like a what’s called an ion selective electrode. And that helps us to determine the sweat sodium concentration. We’ll take that data from the form that we collected, and we’ll apply a prediction equation that estimates that amount of sodium to a whole body sweat sodium concentration, because that’s really the important part right at the extrapolating what we’re finding from a little area to a big area. We’ve done a lot of work at our laboratory, specifically our research hub and that’s located in Barrington, Illinois, to understand the relationship between regional and whole-body measures of sweat sodium concentrations.  

Also, we talked a little bit before about weighing yourself before and after. We do that with a before and after exercise, we do that with athletes, and that’s how we calculate what we call a sweat rate. So, you can think of that as how much sweat an athlete loses during a specific duration of exercise. So, if an athlete is practicing for an hour, let’s say they’re practicing in extreme heat and they’re having trouble staying hydrated. Well, what we try to do is get in there, measure what an athlete is drinking, measure what an athlete is losing and then provide a plan that helps them stay hydrated. So if we know how much sodium an athlete is losing, and we know how much sweat they’re losing, we can generate what we call a sweat profile. And then from that, we can build hydration recommendations for an athlete to help them stay hydrated during the heat or during really intense and really long bouts of exercise. So, you can maybe think a football player during summer training camp or something like that, where they’re out, going really hard in the heat for two hours.  

All of that takes a ton of work and there’s more than one scientist involved. It can even take a little while for us to get results and give them back to the athletes who were trying to help, who we’re providing service to. So, what we’ve done is developed and validated a new smart sweat patch, it’s called the GX sweat patch, and it measures the sweat chloride concentration using a colorimetric assay that’s contained within the patch. And then after exercise, an athlete would just take a picture using your smartphone and the app you referenced of that. And you can get both the using similar equations. Like we talked about earlier, you can get both the sweat sodium concentration from that sweat chloride measurement, as well as the sweat rate and the total estimated total sweat loss during the time frame that you were wearing that patch. So, it’s a little bit quicker, a little more user-friendly and takes a whole lot less scientists standing over you the whole time. 

Jack Giardino: 

I can just imagine going to the local gym and having a bunch of scientists around me while I’m working out. I’m sure everyone would think I’m some professional athlete. 

Brian Leitner: 

Thanks again for downloading this episode of Your Life, Simplified, which is produced by Mariner Wealth Advisors. At Mariner Wealth Advisors, we’re here to serve as your advocate. We help people chart a course to reach their personal and financial goals so that they can have greater peace of mind that may lead to a more fulfilling life. We do this by always putting our clients first, because as fiduciaries, we’re required to provide guidance that’s in the best interest of clients, not in the best interest of a company or shareholders or anyone else. So as you listened to this podcast and have questions about maybe your own financial situation, or would simply like a second opinion, or even you have an idea for a future podcast, please go ahead and email us at podcast@marinerwealthadvisors.com. If you found the information on this podcast valuable, please go ahead and share it with a friend or family member that you think might benefit from this information. And please don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast, so you don’t miss an episode. Thanks for listening. And now back to the episode. 

Jack Giardino: 

I think it’s interesting how Gatorade’s really brought that sense of professionalism to the consumer, right? Just to an average Joe, someone like myself, I would consider myself an average Joe. I work out relatively often, but I’m not breaking any world records by any means. So it’s incredible that they’ve been able to bring this technology to someone like myself and how accurate it is. You wear the sweat patch, it collects the data, you take the picture through the app on your smartphone and then it spits out how to stay hydrated, but what does that information or recommendation actually look like? Is it saying, “Hey, Jack, you should be consuming X amount of ounces of water when you’re doing this type of workout”? Or is it Gatorade products and only recommending that. And then also, is it just around hydration or are there other recommendations that this technology is able to offer or recommend?  

Anthony Wolfe: 

Yeah. Great question. So, with this, with the sweat profile, in terms of like hydration and rehydration and sweat electrolytes, we can give specific information to the user of the application and the patch.  They have personalized results that are actionable, right? So, the patch, sweat testing tells us two main things: how much an athlete needs to drink during exercise to stay adequately hydrated. And that also tells us the sweat sodium concentration, so how much sweat sodium is in a given volume of sweat. And here, it’s kind of important to know that we really need both pieces of information, knowing just the sweat sodium concentration and the absence of the data on how much sweat you’re losing is not really as useful as having the whole picture.  

Having all of that information along with knowing the duration of your workout and what type of workout it is, so like the intensity, if you’re just going for a run, or maybe if you’re playing basketball or something like that can help us determine whether or not an athlete is at risk for high electrolyte losses during their workout, high fluid losses during their workout and can actually help us to provide an athlete with our recommendation for a certain level of carbohydrate that could be beneficial to them during their exercise.  

Not every person that’s exercising is going to need to have carbohydrates while we’re exercising. If we’re just going for a light jog, that’s less than 60 minutes or so, having the extra carbohydrate might not necessarily be anything you need to worry about. If you’re a heavy sweater, probably the hydration, it’s something you need to worry about, but if you’re going for a run that’s over an hour that’s pretty intense, knowing those things can be the difference between having a great run and maximizing the benefits that you’re getting from those runs, or we’ve all felt the sluggish where we’re just super dehydrated. And maybe I was dehydrated when I went into it. I’m only making it worse. I wasn’t properly fueled for it.  

Those are really the things that we’re trying to help athletes and end-users with via our patch and app combination. You mentioned, beyond just the hydration and fueling and things like that, we do also provide other recommendations within the app as well, so things for an athlete recovery, recommend stretching, everybody’s favorite thing, right? But we also have some other cool things in there, like percussive therapy, which if you’ve ever seen those ads for maybe something like a Theragun or something like that, those are kind of cool. There’s more to it than just the sweat patch. We track your training. We can provide recommendations around protein intake, carbohydrate intake. And of course, the fluid that we already mentioned. 

Jack Giardino: 

You and I had previously discussed this, but we talked about actually purchasing the patch and utilizing it. And you had given some guidance around how often you should use a patch, and then what’s the most practical way to make sure you’re getting a proper tracking when you are using the patch. Would you mind covering for those of our listeners that might go out and purchase the patch? How often they should be using it or tracking workouts, and how to really optimize both the patch and the app technology to its full utilization? 

Anthony Wolfe: 

Everything we want to do when we’re providing recommendations is to be personalized to you, right? What I do is going to be different from what you do, which is going to be different from what an elite athlete does. We shouldn’t get the same recommendations necessarily for everybody. We provide two patches to start off with. If you were to go to Dicks Sporting Goods or to Gaterade.com and purchase them, you get two patches right away. And what we would recommend is picking environments that are similar to something that you’re doing on a more continuous basis or something close to what your competitive environment is, if you are an athlete. You slap that patch on your forearm and follow the instructions that go along with it. Let’s say you do a workout at a really high intensity and in the heat. So you get an understanding of, okay, well, if I’m going as hard as I can and weather, that’s as hot as I’m going to experience, this is how much fluid and how much sodium I’m expecting to lose. And then I would do another one that’s closer to what my typical training environment is. So I get an understanding of, well, if this is something I do on a weekly basis, or even a daily basis, I’ll get an idea of a hydration plan that I can follow daily, because I’ve done this test in the environment that matches that. 

Jack Giardino: 

That’s great. I liked how you said, Gatorade really focuses on individualization of the patch and making sure that the recommendation is specific to each individual. And I think that pairs perfectly for what we do here at Mariner Wealth Advisors, too, right? We’re not making the same recommendations across the board for our clients. We’re truly focusing on their specific situation and building out a wealth plan for them that’s tailored to their details. So I think that really hits home for myself and also other folks here. So that’s wonderful. Any last remarks or things that you’d like to make sure that our listeners pick up from today or know about the sweat patch and the app technology that Gatorade has introduced? 

Anthony Wolfe: 

The sweat patches are super awesome and we’ve spent probably the better part of five years creating and developing this, testing well over 400 or 500 athletes, making sure that everything is up to our rigorous standards and everything like that, but the app itself is free. And you can gain a lot of information about just general sports nutrition, regular, everyday nutrition as well. Every time we make a recommendation within our application, if you were to go on the app store, it’s only available on iOS right now. So sorry to the Android users out there, but if you were to search, Gatorade GX, it should come right up. Every recommendation that we make within this smartphone application actually has science behind it. So if you’re using the app and let’s say, it recommends before your workout to drink 30 ounces of fluid, you can click on that recommendation and actually scroll and find scientific articles and even probably many reviews, scientific articles that are available to go ahead and press on, and it’ll link you out to it. And you can actually gain ton of information as to why things are recommended, who came up with these recommendations and even the science behind those. Even if you’re not thinking about purchasing the patch, the app itself can be useful. And we make recommendations that are beyond Gatorade products. We want to be transparent and authentic in everything that we do. And some of that is not every instance is Gatorade, the appropriate drink of choice for you. Sometimes water is enough. I typically go for G Zero, and that’s the case because I love the flavor, but we do want to be authentic and transparent. So, whole foods are great as well. 

Jack Giardino: 

Perfect. Now, I think all of this information has been wonderful. I’ve actually downloaded the app. I thought it was important for me to do some due diligence before we had this recording, and I’ve found the app to be fantastic. So, I just need to go out and purchase the sweat patch and try it out. But I would highly recommend any of our listeners to go out and check out the Gatorade GX app, download that play around with it a little bit. Anthony, I appreciate the time today. Again, the information was wonderful and, and truly appreciate you coming on the show. I’d also like to thank all of our listeners for taking the time out of their day to listen to another episode of Your Life, Simplified. We truly appreciate it. And if you have any ideas, questions or feedback, feel free to reach out to us at podcast@marinerwealthadvisors.com and be sure to subscribe to Your Life, Simplified wherever you listen to your podcasts. Thank you. 

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