Most athletes sweat between 0.5 to 2.0 L/h depending on humidity, temperature, exercise intensity, and sweat response to exercise. This means that for the athlete to maintain a fluid balance and prevent dehydration, they must ingest 0.5-2 L/h of liquid.
Are you an athlete and wondering what are good sports drinks? There are many of them, with the common ones being:
Water is life, and it’s a perfect sports drink for athletes, and the beauty of it is you can use it before and after exercising.
It comes with plenty of perks that make it the perfect sports drink: it’s refreshing, unsweetened, easily accessible, and it’s less likely to cause any stomach problems.
Water also makes a perfect chaser for athletes that take gels or energy chews during training.
While it has its pros, it also has its drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is that it has zero calories and is not an ideal choice when your training goes above and beyond an hour when the glycogen stores are likely to be depleted.
When you are hydrating with water, be cautious that you don’t overhydrate, leading to hyponatremia. This is a condition where the body holds onto too much water leading to sodium dilution in the blood.
Common hyponatremia symptoms include :
- severe cases of death
As you can tell, these are drinks meant to provide your body with energy as you are exercising. Most of these drinks have caffeine as the primary ingredient, and they provide plenty of benefits such as focus, stimulation, and anti-fatigue. A classic example of an energy drink is https://www.tailwindnutrition.com/endurance-fuel-drink/.
Besides the drinks providing you with energy, they are palatable and easy to drink. Research studies have also shown that the drinks significantly boost endurance and fight fatigue, largely due to the presence of caffeine.
The downside to the drinks is they use simple sugars, which provide a short-lived spike in blood glucose, so you feel energized one minute then, when the glucose levels go down, your energy levels drop. The drinks have also been shown to cause GI distress, often due to high sugar levels.
Like water, you should avoid taking too many of these drinks due to the high sugar and caffeine levels. As a rule of thumb, don’t take more than one 16 ounce energy drink per hour, as doing so will lead to nausea, jitteriness, and anxiety. And you don’t want these things happening to you when training, do you?
Carbohydrate/electrolyte sports drinks
These contain salt and carbohydrates in scientifically standardized quantities. The beauty of the drinks is they keep you hydrated when exercising and at the same time provide you with the vital carbohydrates you need to keep your glucose and energy levels high. The carbohydrates also come in handy at preventing hyponatremia.
Good quality carbohydrate/electrolyte sports drinks significantly contribute to your endurance when exercising. Unfortunately, there is plenty of poor quality, over-glorified sugar water with salt and potassium thrown in pedaled as electrolyte sports drinks.
While these drinks contain simple sugars that elevate the blood glucose levels and give you the vital energy you need, they often leave an energy deficit after taking them. The drinks have also been shown to cause GI distress.
To ensure that you are buying the right sports drink, take your time and research the best companies to buy from. A tell-tale sign you are buying a fake carbohydrate/electrolyte sports drink is the price. If the drink is going at a meager price, you have a reason to worry.
Alkaline is a buzzword, and if you have been in the health circles, you must have heard it mentioned a few times.
The concept of alkaline water is that tap water contains different dissolved elements that influence its pH level. On the other hand, pure water has a pH level close to 7, and alkaline water has a pH above 7.
The idea behind taking alkaline water is to achieve a more alkaline balance in the body. While this sounds fantastic on paper, the major downside is that each organ in the body has a unique pH range, and the body does a great job at maintaining the blood pH within the right range.
This means that alkaline water doesn’t help with anything.
You might look cool drinking the water, but it’s of no benefit to your body. It even doesn’t help with improving the endurance, so you don’t train better.
You should avoid taking the alkaline water as it’s of no value. Save that money and invest it elsewhere.
Coconut water is marketed as a drink to enhance hydration and improve electrolyte concentration. Brands selling the water often guarantee that you will smash the PRs and eliminate the cramping when you take the water.
But is this true?
Unfortunately, it isn’t, as studies have shown that the water is no more effective than plain water and other sports drinks. In fact, compared to plain water, coconut water was found to cause gastrointestinal distress more frequently.
Should you buy this sports drink?
Absolutely not, as it’s no different from plain water and other sports drinks in the market. Remember, the water is overhyped, ineffective, and still understudied, so there is no reason to spend your hard-earned money on it.
So, what is the best sports drink?
If you are engaging in an exercise lasting under an hour, go for plain water, but if your training lasts for more than an hour, the carbohydrate/electrolyte drink is the way to go. When buying this drink, ensure it’s high quality and not made up of simple sugars.
You can take an energy drink 30-60 minutes before an endurance exercise to enhance your performance, but you shouldn’t use it as the sole source of hydration.
Don’t waste your money on alkalized and coconut waters as they are all hype and no bite.