When it comes to sports and performance, almost every athlete wants to support his or her body with something that can help restore its resources and provide energy. Sports drinks seem to be a better or even more professional choice, but researchers say good old water is still much better. And here is why.
Image Credit: Joshua Huston
What are sports drinks?
Sports drinks, while advertised as having been designed to supply your body with electrolytes, carbohydrates and vitamins, may not be the best option when exercising.
Sports drinks are liquids rich in the above mentioned nutrients, and are used by athletes to replenish the compounds lost during workouts.
Why are they inferior to common water?
Despite having a lot of nutrients, sports drinks harbor a danger lurking in their bright-colored waters. This danger is sugar.
A bottle can contain up to 10 tbsp of sugar. These unnecessary calories make your running sessions useless, and it is the main reason why plain water is better.
To make matters worse, sports drinks are usually flavored, which means they contain artificial substances, which are not the kind of a thing one would like to consume, especially if you’re trying to make your menu healthy.
So, you’re going to exercise for an hour or run a marathon. Let’s calculate how much water you will need to replenish the nutrients you’re going to lose in the process of exercising.
The electrolytes included in most sports drinks are sodium and potassium. They are lost while you are sweating, and to restore these compounds, one may opt for a sports drink, but only if the workout lasts longer than one hour, and if water is unavailable. It’s worthy of note that sports drinks are not supposed to be consumed by children and teenagers. Such drinks are for healthy adults only!
On average, each hour of exercising causes you to need about 20 ounces of plain water (that is about 600 ml). Drinking water instead of sports drinks is preferred, because they cannot be part of a healthy diet. Instead, if you want to replenish these nutrients afterwards, you can eat a banana, which is rich in potassium, and other food that is healthy and nutrient-rich. Such an approach is more beneficial for your health, because it makes your consumption of nutrients more natural and prevents you from intake of extra sugar that can interfere with your weight loss program.
Beware of overhydration
Actually, if you run marathons, you should know that dehydration is not as dangerous as its opposite – overhydration. Be it plain water or a sports drink, if you drink too much fluid before, after or during a marathon, you run the risk of facing hyponatremia. The condition is responsible for killing more than a dozen marathoners and leaving more than 1,600 critically ill. When you drink too much water, the level of sodium in your blood drops dramatically, which leads to changes in the body that can result in death. Hyponatremia is found in about 13% of marathoners, and it is overhydration that should be avoided. So the rule is not to drink too much when you’re exercising, otherwise it can lead to consequences that are even more serious than those seen after dehydration. After all, dehydration resulting from common running session is not reported to be life-threatening.
“So how do I know when and how much I should drink?”
Next time you decide it’s time for exercising, drink water instead of a sports drink to avoid unnecessary calories and provide your body with enough fluid to restore your body’s water supplies. Eating healthy food to get more nutrients is also a good option.
If you cannot imagine rehydration without something special, you can consult your doctor whether Rehydron is a good drink for you. It is used for medical purposes and contains electrolytes, including sodium.