Nature Already Made an Effective Recovery Drink

With evidence mounting against man-made recovery aids, a new study turns to the water you find deep within the earth.

Since water consumption is so important for good health and athletic performance, it makes sense that athletes would try to improve their water intake with man-made products. However, according to a recent study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, nature might have a better answer.

Why Deep Mineral Water?

In the study, the researchers examined deep mineral water’s effects on athletic recovery.

Deep mineral water is like the normal mineral water you may be familiar with, but it is derived from sources in sandstone, dolomite, and gypsum rock over 2,000 feet underground. According to the researchers, the water used in the study has been there for over 10,000 years.

As you can see in the table below, the water contained numerous minerals, most notably magnesium, calcium, and sulfate. The deep mineral water was compared to purified tap water (listed as placebo on the chart below), which still had some mineralization, but much less so than the mineral water.

Study Design

Because of the increased nutritional value of the deep mineral water, it’s possible that it might assist the body in recovery after exercise. The participants in the study ran on a treadmill for an hour and a half at about five miles per hour. After running, the researchers measured how much water the subjects had lost. The participants then drank 1.5 times more water than they had lost. They drank either the mineral water or the tap water, in a random order. Then they went in a week later and repeated the process, but with the other water.

Once they were done, the subjects had blood drawn to test for muscle damage. The researchers also performed aerobic tests and measured power output of the subjects’ legs four hours after exercise, a day after, and then again two days later. A faster return to baseline values would indicate a faster recovery.


There was indeed a difference between the two types of water. VO2 max was nine percent higher in the mineral water condition at the four-hour mark. Even more interestingly, VO2 max was higher for the mineral water condition than it was before the subjects exercised, and was still elevated two days later. Without the deep mineral water, VO2 max dropped, which was expected, and finally returned to baseline values after the 48-hour time.

Leg power declined about the same in both groups, but recovered faster in the mineral water condition, reaching statistical significance by 48 hours. The muscle damage markers, on the other hand, remained the same in both conditions. So while performance returned to normal at a faster rate with the mineral water, the water’s recovery effects did not translate over to faster repair of muscle fibers.

It seems that mineral water, and specifically deep mineral water, might support improved recovery. This isn’t a big surprise, since the major difference between regular water and deep mineral water is enhanced nutrition. The take-home point may well be that better nutrition is the key to better performance. According to this study, mineral water is one way to get better nutrition.


1. Loreta Stasiule, et. al., “Deep mineral water accelerates recovery after dehydrating aerobic exercise: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2014, 11:34

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