Before moving to Singapore, I considered myself a moderate sweater. I could work out and get a bit of a sweat on, but it confined itself to the normal areas. You know, the forehead/brow region and armpits. Again, NORMAL places. And it was easy to stay hydrated. I didn’t lose that much water, so just taking a bottle of water to the gym was more than sufficient.
It wasn’t until I got to Singapore that I even realized that you could sweat from every pore of your entire body. And I do mean EVERY pore. It was bad enough that the instant I stepped outside of my air-conditioned condo existence that I began to perspire, but I was completely taken aback by what happened when I played tennis.
Have you ever heard someone say that they don’t sweat, they glow? First, let me just say that they’re completely full of shit. They do sweat, but I’ll concede that in comparison to what happens to me here, they might actually look like they’re “glowing.” I wish I was one of those women. However, when I play tennis, I sweat like a freaking pig. There is no ‘glow’, and it’s never cute or lady-like. We’re talking swampy shoes and clothes that I could literally wring out and leave puddles on the court. It gives a whole new meaning to ‘leaving a piece of yourself on the court.’
I know, it’s disgusting. But this is a real issue in this climate! I mean seriously, there are days when I don’t even want to sit down on a chair or bench after a match. Who wants to leave a wet butt mark when they get up? NOBODY!! I doubt even skinny women are thrilled about that prospect, let alone anyone who has ample hips and ass as I do. I do not need a wet reminder of how wide my back-side is, thank you very much.
You know, it’s really too bad that the heat doesn’t melt the fat off my body instead of just drawing out every ounce of water I put in. Can you even imagine how fabulous that would be??? I can see it now…I’ll just play another match and melt off this baby ‘bump’ I’ve been sporting for the past 18 years.
<Sigh> I can dream, right? But reality is rudely calling.
After many years of living in Singapore, I’ve gotten used to the conditions. It takes me longer to reach such gross levels but, yes, it does still happen. I’ve also learned how my body reacts when it does. On days when I sweat a lot, I find I’ll have a gritty film of salt on my skin. Sometimes, I even have white streaks running down my arms and legs. Runners call it cake sweat. I’ve also suffered from cramps a few times, and I’ve ended up with far too many migraines. Why? Because I didn’t pay close enough attention to my fluid and electrolyte consumption. I need to use some sort of supplement along with my water to stay hydrated on those long days. With water alone, I’m replenishing the fluids that I’m sweating out, but not the salt and other electrolytes that I’m losing.
Now, there are various opinions on sports drinks/isotonics. I’ve read arguments both for and against them, but quite a few argue that if you’re not an extreme athlete (which I assure you, I am not), you don’t need to be using sports or isotonic drinks to stay hydrated. Well, if we were living in a different climate, I would agree with that. But we’re not. We’re in Singapore. It’s hot and very humid and dehydration occurs from loss of fluids and minerals/electrolytes. If you’re sweating for a long period of time (as one does playing tennis here), it doesn’t matter if your exertion levels are that of an Olympian, or not. You’re going to get dehydrated unless you are replenishing what you’ve lost.
So what do I use? I’ll get to that, but I’ll tell you now that part of my routine also includes making sure I drink enough water on the days before I play. The last thing I need is to already be slightly dehydrated before I even get on the court. Also, I don’t drink a lot of alcohol in general, but I definitely keep it to a minimum on days before long practices or matches. Too much alcohol causes dehydration, and if you add that to the Singapore conditions, you’re just asking for trouble.
Below are some of the many options available to help stay hydrated. Over time I have found my favorites, but you should definitely try a few and see what works best for you. The most important thing is to be prepared ahead of time. Trust me when I say that it’s much easier to prevent dehydration than it is to deal with it after you’re already suffering. Dehydration can contribute to dizziness, cramps, headaches, heat exhaustion and more. If you’ve ever played a long match here and either got cramps on court or had that after-match “hangover” that took all afternoon to recover from, then you’ve come face to face with dehydration. For those of you lucky enough not to have experienced that yet, believe me, it’s really not fun.
Products for Staying Hydrated
Commercial Isotonic Drinks:
100 Plus, Pocari Sweat, H-TWO-0, Gatorade, etc.
I’ve tried several of these commercial drinks and they do help to stay hydrated. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of how much sugar and other unnecessary ingredients they contain. I’m also not fond of the flavors of most of these, so I try to use other options when I can. However, if these are your preference, perfect! There’s no judgment here – you do what works for you.
This is a slightly controversial inclusion. Coconut water is extremely popular just about everywhere, and in recent years, has been touted as “nature’s sports drink.” There aren’t very many studies out there but, from what I can find, drinking it straight from the nut (ordered fresh) is not quite the same as a traditional isotonic drink, but is a better option than consuming a prepackaged/processed version. While the potassium levels are very high in both versions, the sodium and other electrolyte levels in the processed products are not high enough to compare to your traditional sports drinks or supplements. That’s not to say processed coconut water is unhealthy, but it is not the most effective option when you’re sweating a lot. In terms of convenience, taking a fresh coconut on the court isn’t really an option for me. So while I do really like coconut water, this is not my go-to hydration choice.
(I’m sure there will be people out there who disagree with me on this one, but I can’t find the scientific data on coconut water to support the claims. If you have, please share!)
NUUN, GU, Zipfizz, etc.
This is my go-to option. It’s compact, portable, and easy to add to my water when I get on the court. For anyone unfamiliar, these are electrolyte tablets or powders that you dissolve into your water and then consume. They are a very popular and effective option, and NUUN is probably the one I see used most often. However, there are many brands on the market and in a variety of formulas and flavors. Whether you want one with or without caffeine or a specific sweetener, you are sure to find one that suits your needs. I’ve tried many of the brands that are readily available here, but my current favorite is one I stumbled across on my last trip to the States. Its called Zipfizz, and I love their Pink Grapefruit and Pink Lemonade flavors. While it’s not sold in Singapore, it is available online, so I’m covered when I run out. If the tablets or powders sound like the way to go for you, I’ve included an article below that reviews some of the top brands.
More Ways To Stay Hydrated.
If none of the above ideas are working for you, there are still other options. I’ve had friends who swear by drinking pickle juice before a match. Yes, you read that right, pickle juice. I’ve never looked into the science behind it because, well frankly, it sounds revolting to me. But hey, who knows, perhaps there’s merit to it. There is salt in the brine, so maybe…
<gag> Nope, still sounds horrible.
Homemade Sports Drink
I have other friends who make their own homemade version of an isotonic drink so they can control the sugar and salts to their own tastes. If this sounds like more your cup of tea, you can find lots of recipes online. Typically, they start with a base liquid of water, coconut water, or herbal tea and add things like fresh juice, liquid mineral drops, a natural sweetener, and sea salt. I’ve included links below to a couple of sites with recipes you might want to try out. Personally, I’m too lazy to bother with this when there are great pre-made alternatives on the market. But like I mentioned above, you have to do what works for you.
So there you go! Everyone’s needs and preferences will be different, as everyone sweats differently. I’m hopeful (not really 😜) that many of you are not as bad as I am, but I know there are loads of you like me out there. I’ve seen your butt prints on benches and the drops of sweat on the courts, and I have secretly bonded with you. As we move into the warmer weather and the season gets underway, please make sure to keep yourselves healthy and stay hydrated!
To The Community
I think I’ve said it before, but I feel it’s important to reiterate; I am not an expert, coach or doctor. I’m just sharing the information I’ve accumulated and my experiences (good and bad) in the hopes of amusing and helping my fellow tennis players. TQOTC is meant to be a resource for this community of players and it is significantly better when you are part of the conversation. If you have found another hydration product you love, have a great tip, or favorite recipe for a homemade sports drink, I would love for you to share that information with everyone.
As the leagues get underway, here are some other TQOTC Articles that might interest you: