For those looking to step up their workout routines to another level, proper hydration is essential.
Although water is certainly the drink of choice, runner up is the ever-popular “sports drink”. Commercial after commercial all promote that drinking these colorful beverages are vital to optimal performance for athletes. Wanting to be able to perform just like the super stars we see on the screens and in arenas, we buy our own supply of these sports drinks.
Although there is nothing intrinsically wrong with these beverages… are they better to drink than water when working out? Why, or why not?
Do sports drinks rehydrate and recharge better than plain water?
The truth of the matter is that both water and sports drinks (regardless of color/flavor) are hydrating options. The difference is that sports drinks tend to contain “nutrients” that your body loses quickly after the start of a workout.
When you start exercising intensely, your body very quickly works up a sweat. In this sweat is a combination of water, salt, and a combination of sodium, potassium and chloride… just to name a few.
It is these excursions that are sought to be replaced in the body. The knee jerk reaction after hearing that you should try to replace these secretions every time you workout, but that is not the wisest decision to make. Let us explain why you should hold off on drinking sports drinks, except under certain circumstances.
You only need to start “replenishing” if you are working out for more than 60 minutes, or very intensely for 30 minutes
The human body only starts to lose noticeable amounts of the above mentioned secretions after about an hour of moderate to exercising, or after about a half hour of intense exercise.
Unless you are actually replacing the secretions that you have lost, then you are not actually doing much more than drinking a calorie filled and sweetened beverage. It may certainly taste better than water, but you may not be doing your body any favors by downing sports drinks every time you “exercise”.
If you are not replacing what is lost, then you are simply gaining, and a single bottle of sports drink can have as many as 214 calories. Unless your workout has you working intensely for at least a half hour, that sports drink will turn into nothing but body fat.
Sodium is the key to water retention when working out
The most essential secretion you need to know about is sodium. Both an electrolyte as well as a mineral, sodium is the element in the body that controls how water is utilized in the body. When there is a good amount of sodium in your body, the water is utilized as efficiently as possible. Controlling how well water moves in and out of individual cells and muscles, sodium is easily secreted out of the body when you sweat. Want to continue being able to utilize water an hour into your workout as when you started? --replenish electrolytes.
If you are not working out for longer than an hour, then there is no real need to punch up your body’s performance with an electrolyte replenisher. Although you may feel refreshed after a workout by drinking a sports drink --know that it is not in any way necessary.
So, what should I drink?
Water is all you need to drink.
At the end of the day, sports drinks are artificial, and the body sweats and runs at its absolute best, in both male bodies and female bodies alike, when you fuel it with naturals. Although a sports drink can be a short cut to high performance, it still is loaded with artificial ingredients.
When it comes to workouts and exercise --keep that water flowing, and obey your thirst.
Baker, Lindsay B. “Sweating Rate and Sweat Sodium Concentration in Athletes: A Review of Methodology and Intra/Interindividual Variability.” Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.z.) 47.Suppl 1 (2017): 111–128. PMC. Web. 31 Jan. 2018.
Coombs, J., Hamilton, K.. “The Effectiveness of Commercially Available Sports Drinks.” Sports Medicine. 2000.
"Calories In Gatorade Mix Powdered Drink Mix." Myfitnesspal.com. 2018.
Ichinose-Kuwahara, Tomoko et al. "Experimental Physiology -Research Paper: Sex Differences In The Effects Of Physical Training On Sweat Gland Responses During A Graded Exercise." Experimental Physiology. 2010.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read here. This article is for general information only.