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Sports drink fact sheet

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Should I drink water or a sports drink? What is the best choice for my body if I am working out or need to participate in a marathon? Have you ever come across these questions while choosing beverages for yourself?

The truth is that many people prefer sports drinks over water just for its taste and added electrolytes. But do you know the fact sheet about it at all? Let me help you to find out by reading further……

Sports and electrolyte drinks often seem like the perfect way to quench your thirst when working out but there’s a very limited group of people who should be drinking them. People use sports drinks to replace water (rehydrate) and electrolytes lost through sweating after activity. Electrolytes contains minerals, such as potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium, that keep the body’s balance of fluids at the proper level. You lose water and electrolytes when you sweat.

Water is the main ingredient in sports drinks, but it also contain other substances, including carbs and electrolytes, which are supposed to improve performance. The carbs in these drinks are often in the form of sugars like glucose, sucrose and fructose but they may also be found in other forms.

Sports drinks give you the carbohydrates (sugars) and fluid you need to fuel your muscles and stay hydrated. Sodium provided in sports drinks stimulates thirst and decreases urine losses. Sports drinks should be utilized during high intensity exercise and endurance sports. Tolerance and use of sports drinks will vary among individual athletes. Sports drinks can give you a needed energy boost during your activity. They are designed to rapidly replace fluids and to increase the sugar (glucose) circulating in your blood.

Though water should always be your first drink of choice, there may be certain scenarios where a sports drink is exactly what your body needs. If you’re participating in high-intensity workouts lasting more than 45 minutes to an hour, sports drinks may help replenish your body’s electrolyte stores better than water. You may benefit from sports drinks only if you are doing heavy exercise or playing intense sports for 45 minutes or more, especially in hot or humid weather. Examples include going for a run or a bike ride, weightlifting or playing sports like tennis, hockey, soccer, basketball or football.

Plain water, however, can replenish the fluid lost during exercise but not the electrolytes and the carbohydrates. It also gives a feeling of fullness and increases urine output. Thus, before an intense exercise, it is best to keep yourself well hydrated with water, not a sports drink. After prolonged and strenuous activity, rehydration should mainly be done with water, if the athlete has been consuming sports drinks during the actual event. If you are still wondering why water, take a glimpse below as to what is the importance of water in our body:

Water makes up about 60% of your bodyweight and is the most important chemical in your body. It’s involved in everything, from regulating your internal temperature to protecting sensitive tissues and cushioning joints. Every single cell, tissue, and organ depends on proper hydration to function optimally. When your body lacks enough water to function properly, it’s known as dehydration, which can lead to fatigue, confusion, and irritability .Hydration depends not only on your water intake, but on the amount of water exiting your body through:

• Sweat
• Urination
• Breathing

Hence, Water, water and water should be the beverage of choice for hydration before, during and after physical activity or exercise routines lasting less than one hour.

Why Sports Drinks Can Be a Bad choice?

Sports drinks were designed for those performing intense physical activity. These drinks were never intended to be consumed by the general public, but unfortunately, they have been marketed to the masses with the underlying message that if you drink these, you will become a great athlete or a body builder. Well! Not really, in fact you will just gain nothing but just weight. Sports drinks, electrolyte drinks or any sugary drinks should not be consumed for meals or snacks and should not replace water. These sugary drinks often lead to excessive caloric intake and substantially increase the risk of obesity in both children and adults.

Drinking too many sugary sports drinks can also lead to tooth enamel erosion. Most sports drinks have a pH between three and four, which is associated with enamel demineralization.

Better Options – Other Rehydrating Drink Choices: Coconut Water, Infused Water, Milk and/or Energy Drinks

Infused water. A good combination of water along with Vitamin C, vitamins and electrolytes to replenish with (try adding black salt, fruits, honey and have it within few hours)

Coconut water. Coconut water has very low levels of carbohydrates, as well as small amounts of sodium and potassium. It adds nothing over water during a workout. But still it’s a better choice than a fluid having loads of sugar and carbs.

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Milk has been touted as a good recovery drink because it provides carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes and vitamin D. A few studies comparing milk with sports drinks and they seem to show there is little difference in the two, as far as athletic performance. However, it reiterates with all drinks used during exercise, this only applies to strenuous, prolonged exercise and not short duration, low-intensity activity.

How Much Water Do You Actually Need?

The average person should be well hydrated each hour during the heat of summer. Look at the colour of your urine for signs of proper hydration. Light yellow or clear urine means you are properly hydrated. Dark, concentrated urine means you do not have enough fluid on board. If you become thirsty, it’s a sign that you’ve waited too long to drink water. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, cracked lips, decrease in urine output and dark urine, irritability, drowsiness, dry skin, low energy, headache and extreme thirst.

So, the bottom line is save your money and drink water. Water should be the primary hydration source for children and adults, and sports drinks should only be used during time of high intensity and prolonged athletic event. Sports drinks are high on carbohydrates, electrolytes and have a flavour. The flavour can be considered an essential part of sports drinks, as the better something tastes, the more you would want to have it.

The best option while running long distance is to drink a combination of both water and sports drinks. This way you will keep getting rehydrated through water and the body will keep getting fuelled with the help of the sports drink. Primary source of hydration should always be water. It is not only imperative for an athlete to hydrate himself properly on the day of the run, but the athlete should start days before it, as the summer heat makes you lose a lot of electrolytes that need to be replenished with fresh juices and water. On the day of the run, an athlete can sip a little water before the run to moisten the throat as wet throat helps one to breathe easily.

Both sports drinks and water are necessary for a long work out. Sports drinks provide the runners with the necessary carbohydrates and electrolytes and water is essential for the instant metabolising of these necessary minerals. Hence, both taken in enough quantities will lead to maximum output. Water, on the other hand, has the highest rate of absorption, and hence it provides instant energy to the runners. But, voluntary intake of water is not as much as it is when it comes to sports drinks because water is not that tasty to some. Also, water does not have the sodium and potassium content like sports drinks do, and hence, after drinking a lot of water, the runner might feel the urge to urinate.

To summarise, plain water is usually the best choice unless you are working out vigorously or performing for long hours thus losing your body’s electrolytes and energy through sweat, then you need to replenish it with good energy or a sports drink. It might help you to perform but do keep the carbs and sugar factor in mind. Try to take your fluid intake through natural sources like water, lemon water, coconut water, etc. as much as possible and keep your body well hydrated when you exercise or during your sports performance.

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WYNIT has evolved to provide world class sports nutrition consultancy services to aspiring and promising young athletes around the world.

We focus on a holistic approach between the coach, parent and sports nutritionist. Our services include Sports Performance Plan, Sports Nutrition Plan, Gene Testing and Nutrigenomics. We provide performance nutrition to all kinds of sports including Hockey, Wrestling, Tennis, Squash, Badminton, Boxing, Chess, Golf, Karate, Basketball, Cricket, Football, Athletics, Gymnastics, Table Tennis, Volleyball, etc.

The panel of Sports Nutritionist is mentored by Chief Celebrity Nutritionist, Harpreet Pasricha.

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