Have your say - Join our Online Community and help make a difference

The truth about sports drinks

There are so many different sports drinks on the market today, each one offering something new, something different, something more beneficial than the last.

Many sports drinks you can buy in shops claim to boost energy, increase endurance and stamina, hydrate you fully, refresh electrolytes etc. But what is the truth about sports drinks? And are there any benefits to using these over good, old-fashioned H2O?

Avoid sports drinks before you workout

While sports drinks replace lost energy stores and replace important electrolytes, the pre-mixed varieties often have a high level of carbohydrates and artificial sweeteners.

They might be good to use after exercise to rejuvenate the body but they can clog your system, slowing fluid absorption and causing a drop in performance if used before your session.

Plus, after exercise, your body craves something sweet to help your body replace the lost energy used during your workout. The most beneficial way to use sports drinks like this is as an accompaniment to a post-workout protein shake.

Shake up your metabolism

In order to help your body digest the protein shake, you should consume some form of carbohydrate. The quick boost of energy received from bottled sports drinks is enough to allow optimum protein absorption and synthesis into the muscles.

If you really want to use them during your exercise routine, the best option is to water them down with equal parts water. This will help to reduce the chances of clogging your system and save you some money at the same time!

Hypertonic, Hypotonic, and Isotonic

It is important to note the difference between Isotonic, Hypotonic and Hypertonic drinks. While many commercial sports drinks claim to be Isotonic, they are often Hypertonic.

Isotonic sports drinks contain similar concentrations of salt and sugar, electrolytes, as your body. So, as you might be able to guess, Hypotonic sports drinks contain lower levels of electrolytes than your body and Hypertonic contain greater levels.

The reason many drinks that claim to be Isotonic are Hypertonic is because everyone’s levels of electrolytes are different.

It’s in the mix

In order to get the optimum levels of electrolytes for you, one of the best options is to mix your own isotonic drinks using a powder and water.

If you cannot afford to buy the powders to create your own isotonic drinks, one option is to make a bottle of squash and add a pinch of salt.
This will not affect the taste of the drink, but provides you with the right amount of sodium and carbohydrate your body needs for optimum rehydration and recovery!

The five simple rules

  1. If you are not building up a sweat while you exercise you should keep to filtered fresh water.
  2. Try not to buy pre-mixed bottles, mix your own using carbohydrate powders.
  3. If you are exercising in cool temperatures drink a 5-6% mix of powder to water.
  4. If you are exercising in warm temperatures, use a 3-5% mix of powder and water.
  5. If you do buy pre-bottled sports drinks, always use them as a post-workout drink or water them down to reduce the chance of your system getting clogged.