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|Updated May 5, 2006|
Twenty other people drinking an electrolytic beverage did not have increased blood viscosity and urine output. Apparently drinking an electrolytic beverage is a much better choice for staying hydrated during air travel. See Hamada in Bibliography.
Finding an electrolytic beverage in some countries may be a challenge. In Paris, at the huge Decathlon store catering to runners, Airheatlh.org's Mike Reynolds found many powdered drink mixes overloaded with performance-enhancing carbohydrates, vitamins, etc. Only one came close to the 110 mg per cup of sodium and 30 mg per cup of potassium tested in Hamada's study. But the powder has to be mixed with water. Can you use the water available on the plane?
Don't drink the water :
Using airline tap water to mix with powdered electrolytic beverages would be a serious mistake. To avoid carrying any more bottled water than necessary, you could bring two 20-oz (or so) wide-mouth bottles of clean water. Mix the powder into one bottle and, when it runs out, refill it from bottled water in the galley and mix in more powder. Keep the other bottle in reserve in case they run out of bottled water in the galley.
Calories: During air travel you don't need energy-boosting carbohydrates. If you are counting calories, look for stores carry low-calory isotonic beverages. Or you might prefer low-calory isotonic powder mixes such as Isostar, especially if you want to avoid the bulk and weight of bottled drinks.
Pretzels: If you search "hydration" on Google, you will find other alternatives such as drinking water and munching a few pretzels, but this leaves a lot to chance. Until further scientific studies are done, one cup per hour of an isotonic beverage seems prudent.