Posted in exercise, Fitness, healthy eating, Sports drinks, water

Sports Drinks or Water? Which Should I Choose?

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When it comes to the beverage market, consumers are saturated with a plethora of drinkable products all boasting that they will enhance your endurance, increase your stamina, and keep you hydrated. But what happened to just good old fashion water? Yes sports drinks have their place and we will discuss that. However, after your personal workout which beverage is the best choice and why? Should you choose plain water or should you grab a sports drink?

Let’s take a look at the make up of a sports drink.  First off, they are high in sugar, a simple carbohydrate, that metabolizes quickly to give you that instant burst of energy your body needs when it runs low on fuel. Second they are high in sodium. Because the goal of a sports drink is to keep your body hydrated, by adding sodium to the mix, it allows your body to hold on to the fluid it needs to prevent dehydration. Finally sports drinks are infused with electrolytes. These elements are lost in the sweat as a person works out at a high intensity, which throws off balances in the body so sports drinks are meant to maintain that electrolyte balance.  Sports drinks because of their ingredient make up tend to be very high in calories.
Water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. Two hydrogen molecules and an oxygen molecule. It has no sugar, no electrolytes and no calories.  Simple as that. Now, there are waters that are infused with electrolytes, or enhanced with sugar free flavors, but for the most part, water is simple, pure and its goal is to maintain hydration in the body.

For the most part, water works best in most situations.  Sports drinks were actually developed to enhance hydrating  for long vigorous athletic workouts lasting 2-3+ hours. The idea was that if a person is out on the field or working out at extreme levels the body needed to be quickly refueled and re hydrated and the easiest way to do that was through liquids. The problem with water is that it re hydrates, but it does not refuel or maintain electrolyte balance and it also triggers the athlete to have to use the restroom. Which, under normal circumstances is not necessarily a bad thing, but during intense competition, running off the field or court is not always an option. So as described earlier in the make up of a sports drink, this made it an ideal option for those conditions.

For workouts lasting 30-60 minutes at moderate to vigorous intensity, water will do just fine. Most people who are working out at this level do not need the added calories of a sports drink to enhance their workouts. Most people get the calories they need from the foods they eat everyday and therefore, if a person is working out to lose weight, using a sports drink is just counteracting the efforts put forth by exercise, because most people will not burn off the amount of calories one bottle of sports drink contains.

In conclusion, if your workouts are approximately one hour long and your goal is to lose weight through a sensible diet and exercise, your best option is to chose water. Your water can be tap water, bottled water, low cal flavored water, I think you get the idea. Your goal, is to rehydrate and replace the water lost while sweating. If you are training for an endurance competition or are playing for a sport for long hours 2+, in the heat or cold, sports drinks might be a better option because your body needs to maintain certain levels of hydration and fuel and electrolyte balance to give you the edge you need to burst and be explosive and maintain endurance during long vigorous spans of time.  I hope that this helps you to decide which hydration tool you will use when you plan your workouts.

Written By Julie S.


Owner of Yoga Fusion Fitness Certified Personal Trainer and Yoga Teacher

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