Sports drinks are a bad sport! Many people are in the habit of drinking a sports drink whenever they exercise to re-hydrate themselves. Sure they do hydrate, but unless you have just run an entire marathon, there is practically no benefit to a sports drink over water. The big down side is that they are packed full of sugar, so take a look at how much sugar you are taking in.
A bottle of Powerade has 36grams of sugar in it, almost as much as a can of coke. If you have a Powerade 3 days a week that equates to 5.6kg of pure sugar! It hits the wallet hard too, at say $3.50 a bottle that’s $546 year. Compared to water which is sugar free, costs nothing and does the same job, a sports drink defies the point of drinking it for health benefits.
Water is the best option for hydration during exercise- in fact you need 4-6 ounces for every 15 minutes you exercise. Sugar rich sports drinks actually slows down hydration because the cells absorb the sugar first, which reduces the rate that the water is absorbed into the cells for re-hydration. For this reason, juices and carbonated soft drinks are not good to drink, either. It is advised that you avoid any drinks that are high in sugar or caffeine.
While the sugars and caffeine offer an energy boost, they are not nutritionally good for you and many contain as many calories as you are burning during your exercise routine, which defeats the purpose. In fact, energy and sports drinks slow re-hydration, you may drink a lot more of them than is necessary and still feel thirsty. You certainly don’t need the extra calories they provide.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some of the sugar-free sports drinks that might be better for you, and now they are making vitamin enhanced or flavored bottled water, making it more likely that you will drink enough to get properly hydrated, without the added calories, sugar and caffeine. The only thing is that to get re-hydrated properly, there is no replacement for the free, calorie-less drinking water that comes out of your kitchen tap.
During an exercise routine, it is re-hydration that is most important, not nutrition. While juice has vitamins, minerals and electrolytes, which are good for you, it is more like a food item and it isn’t a great thirst quencher. Even coffee and tea are considered diuretics which pull more water out of your bloodstream, even as the digestive system is putting it back in. Adding milk or sugar only makes this process worse.
Of course alcoholic beverages can have the opposite effect and actually make you thirstier. Any kind of diet carbonated beverages are high in sodium, which has the same “drying” effect on your cells. If you have ever drunk these on a hot day to quench thirst, you may have noticed that the more you drink, the thirstier you get.
Drinking water is the best remedy for quenching thirst during your workout. Save the sports drinks for running a marathon, where you need the boost of energy from the sugar. You will still need to be sure you drink plenty of water, though.
Scott Hunt has been a Personal Trainer for over a decade and has personally taken over 20,000 Personal Training sessions. While his Gold Coast Studio, Fitness Enhancement has done hundreds of thousands of sessions. To find out how quick and easy it can be to get fit and lose weight with a Personal Trainer visit their website at www.fitnessenhancement.com.