O2 has grown dramatically in the last several years because of our amazing fans. Our customers are smart and driven; they consume a lot of health and wellness information. We’re especially glad that they’ve also decided to consume a lot of O2 (heyoo). But even so, O2 fans and would-be connaisseurs still have questions about the science behind drinking something oxygenated. While we’ve shared scientific data with our gym retailers in the past and published a meaty article on oxygenated water on our blog, sometimes those sources are a lot to digest (pun intended). So, we thought we’d share actual questions (and answers) we’ve received about oxygen ingestion in case you’re looking for a refresher on the topic. It’s fun AND informative - kinda like us!
What does it mean to be oxygenated?
Of course, our high school chemistry teacher taught us that by drinking H20, we’re already ingesting oxygen molecules every day. But when a liquid, like water, is oxygenated, that means that additional oxygen has been added. Kind of like carbonation, but with a different gas. It’s a complex process that very few manufacturers can do (we actually have a patent pending on it), which makes a drink like ours unique. And, not all are created equal; some “oxygenated” products on the market end up being no more oxygenated than plain tap water. We won’t name names, but we’ve done the testing and have been disappointed. Regular tap water has anywhere between 2-7 parts per million of oxygen, which is what other so-called “oxygenated” drinks we’ve tested have shown as well. O2 is made with 40+ parts per million, and if you crack open a can and stick a dissolved oxygen reader down there, you’ll see that yourself. That’s why we say O2 is made with about 7-10x the oxygen of normal tap water. It’s because it actually is!
When my water is oxygenated, how does that impact my lungs?
It doesn’t. Consuming oxygen in water, or some other liquid, will not impact your respiration or your oxygen saturation in any way. Don’t believe misguided beverage companies claiming their oxygenated products will enhance your actual sports performance. The science is not there, and the human body doesn’t work that way. The best way to get more oxygen in your lungs during a workout? Keep breathing (and do more burpees on a regular basis).
How does the oxygen ingestion help my body?
The benefits of oxygen ingestion really center around the liver, one of the most important filtration systems in your body. Your portal vein delivers nutrients from your stomach to your liver. One of those important nutrients is oxygen, and your liver uses it to process toxins out of the bloodstream. Think of drinking O2 as supercharging your liver’s oxygenated blood supply. There have been peer-reviewed scientific studies dating all the way back to 1951 that show this. Early on, our co-founder, Daniel J. Kim, MD, compiled the research and consistently found that the amount of oxygen available to the liver directly impacts its function: the higher the oxygen levels present in the liver, the more efficiently it filters toxins. Therefore, the more oxygen you ingest, the more that is delivered to your liver to flush the bad stuff from your body. While that insight is pretty well known in the medical community, O2 was the first to bring it to the broader public and speak to those benefits accurately.
I feel less sore when I drink O2 after a workout. What’s the science there?
The science behind this is really cool, and it’s actually evolved since we first launched O2. Back then, people consistently told us they felt less sore after drinking an O2, which had us scratching our heads. We knew the detox benefits, but soreness? Since then, researchers have constructed a study with long-distance runners and looked at the impact of oxygen ingestion on their athletic recovery. They gave some athletes water with added oxygen and other athletes a placebo. The athletes who consumed the water with added oxygen had less lactate in their bodies 30 minutes post-workout than those who didn’t. Now it all made sense!
Let’s talk a minute about lactate. Also known as lactic acid, lactate is produced by your muscles when . you exercise. After a really tough workout, excess lactate can build up. The side effect is feeling lethargic or sore until the lactate can be cleared from your system. The longer the clearance takes, the longer your recovery.
Back to the study, the findings in the report reiterated the role of the liver in processing all things, including lactate, out of the bloodstream. The report went further to conclude that there was a direct impact between oxygen concentrations and the liver’s lactate metabolism—that ingesting oxygen supplements had a positive impact on the body’s ability to clear out lactate. And as we mentioned, with less lactate in the system, the athlete can feel recovered from the workout faster. Feel free to check out the full report if you’re looking for some good bedtime reading.
We hope this helped to clarify any confusion about what it means to be oxygenated. At O2, we follow the science, and we’re careful not to jump on any marketing bandwagons. Our values are Honesty, Humility, and Hustle—so being clear and transparent about the facts is important to us. We see first-hand the recovery benefits of O2 in our customers’ posts and communications, and we couldn’t be happier (checkout our stories on @drinko2recovery and see for yourself). Keep up the Hustle!