Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sports drinks

Unless im running a race i usally avoid sports drinks like the i mentioned before i cannot justify the benefits of drinking unessesary calories. Which brings me to the question...Do we really need them?

Recommendation of sports drink is based on a number of factors like type of sport the person is engaged in, its intensity and duration, athlete's nutritional status and many more. Commercial sports drinks that are hitting the market primarily consist of water, carbohydrate, and electrolytes (sodium, chloride, and potassium. The need for sports drink nutrition also depends upon the athlete's dehydration status. There are sports that cause heavy loss of fluids and it is there where these sports drink come to play a major role, in preventing your body from getting dehydrated. Well, the performance level tends to get adversely affected, owing to the depletion of the body's carbohydrate stores and dehydration, which takes place while carrying out sporting activities.

When sweating takes place during performance of sports, it tends to cause loss of fluids and electrolytes (minerals such as chloride, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, sodium and potassium), thus making the body dehydrated. Dehydration if not taken care of, can take ugly shape by causing circulatory collapse and heat stroke. This is where the benefits of sports drink can be very well understood. When the fluid loss takes place in the body, it leads to impaired performance and the capacity for performing muscular work also declines. Thus, these sports drinks definitely aid in improving the performance level of an athlete, by acting as energy booster

But sports drinks are not all the same. There are essentially three kinds of sports drink.
  1. Hypertonic. This type of sport drink has a high carbohydrate content and is normally used during or after your exercise, and works to replenish your carbohydrate and muscle glycogen stores.
  2. Isotinic sports drinks contains around 8% carbohydrates, fluid and electrolytes and provide  a quick replacement fluids and a top up on your carbohydrate stores.
  3. Hypotonic sports drinks have  a lower carbohydrate content  in addition to fluids and electrolytes. If  all you need is a quick replacement of fluids, this type of sport drink will do the trick

But, are these necessary for recovery? Absolutely not. Should you carry them with you for post-workout replenishment. Yes, but please be aware that if you are trying to lose weight these drinks might not be the best choice since they contain sugars. Overall, they are a safe and effective way of recovering from a strenuous workout.

Are the proposed benefits of sports drinks no more than marketing hype? Or are there times when they provide real benefit over cool, clear water?

The aims of sports drinks are to:
  1. Provide a rapid supply of fluid for the body's tissues
  2. Provide sufficient carbohydrate as an energy source for continued exercise
  3. Provide a dilute solution of electrolytes
  4. Promote consumption by being palatable and refreshing
  5. Make money for the manufacturer
So, getting back to the question, should you opt for water or sports drinks? Water looks after point number one - providing a rapid supply of fluids. If you're exercising for 30 minutes or less, you probably won't empty your energy stores so you probably don't need a sports drink.
However, if you're exercising at reasonably high intensity, have more than one session in a day, or exercise for longer than 30 minutes, the effect of sports drinks on your performance will range from not doing you any harm to being highly beneficial.
So there you go...not completely a must but handy when you have earned them!

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