Fact or Fallacy #4: You need that sports drink!
It seems that every one whos anyone is supping crazy coloured liquids throughout every gym session, exercise class, light jog, walk down the stairs that they do these days. But do you really need it or is it just something you simply crave for when you exercise?
Sports drinks are beneficial to athletes as they help to refuel the muscles with carbohydrates and provide electrolytes in the form of sodium and potassium in the large part (obviously some are better than others of course). These nutrients help to keep performance levels constant as it is known that even mild dehydration reduces performance levels as this study below shows:
However, our bodies have enough fuel present to exercise at a fairly high intensity for around an hour. Any less than this and you really do not need anything other than water to rehydrate. Of course when it is hot, like the last few days up in sunny Leeds, you will need more water than you usually take in during exercise, but this is all you need!
What about those of you on a diet? Most sports drinks have between 140 and 200 calories in them. I often see people going through 2 or even three bottles of lucozade in a single session, thats nearly a meal in itself! If you’re trying to cut calories give yourself a chance and cut out the sports drinks!
Post training is a time when you need to refuel as quickly as possible. You should be looking to take in carbohydrates and protein at this time to prevent your muscles from breaking down. This is superior to just ingesting carbs alone, as this study shows:
For every 2g of carbs you take in post exercise you need 1g of protein to optimise the recovery process. Usually 30-50 grams of carbs and 15 to 25 grams of protein will do the job well.
So in a nutshell, make sure you’re taking in protein and carbs post exercise and not going into training sessions depleted.
If you’re training over an hour or extremely intensely look to incorporate electrolytes and some simple carbs into your session. This can be in the form of an energy drink.
If your exercising in extreme heat you will need to take in additional fluids. Absorption of water can be aided by including electrolytes particularly sodium and potassium.
A pinch of salt in your water bottle is a good step to take in these circumstances.
Okay thats all for now, here’s to a better hydration and recovery process!