We’ve all seen the ads. Professional athletes sweating through a workout and then replenishing their bodies with cold refreshing sports brightly colored sports drink. This goes all the way back to the iconic Gatorade ads with Michael Jordan that ended with ‘Be Like Mike. Drink Gatorade’
But how does it play out in real life? Is drinking sports drinks a wise choice for the average person and every day athlete? The answer is probably not. While most sports drinks have vitamins and electrolytes they are also loaded with sugar and unhealthy carbs that is not good for our bodies.
In general water is the best choice for hydrating your body during and after a workout. In this extreme heat you may be sweating more than normal and may be losing more electrolytes than normal but this is usually only after more than an hour of sustained sweating.
After an hour of exercise most of us need about 20 ounces of fluid to stay hydrated. For the most part we can’t go wrong with drinking more water. While there is no universally agreed upon amount of water that must be consumed each day it is essential for our bodies to function correctly. This is true even down to the most basic level like our blood is 90% water and blood is what carries oxygen to the different parts of our body. If we want to feel good and energized drink water.
The electrolytes in sports drinks help boost normal water by providing us with more sodium and potassium, among other ingredients. This helps our muscles to function better and we feel stronger and less prone to cramping, headaches and fainting spells. “If you do decide to have a sports drink you should pick one that lists sodium and potassium on the label, as well as carbohydrates which provide the muscles with fuel they need to continue exercising”
Fortunately there are other ways to replenish our electrolytes after a hard workout. Some nutritionists recommend milk or almond milk with its “good blend of potassium, carbohydrates and protein”. Bananas, applesauce and avocados are also helpful in recovering from a workout. Some athletes even drink pickle juice to replenish electrolytes.
The fact is most of us are not participating in the kinds of intense, long workouts that require sports drinks. Instead of being helpful they end up as empty high sugar calories that can contribute to more weight gain. We don’t need that when water can usually do the job instead. Most of us need between 9 to 13 cups of water a day and if you are exercising bump it up a bit. Of course, speak with your doctor before beginning any kind of exercise regiment as we are all different in our needs.
What about you? Do you like sports drinks? Do you think they are an important part of your exercise routine? Share with us in the comments section