Nutrition Bites - Sports Drinks: Do I Need Them?

Sports Drinks: Do I Need Them?

Great question here. Sports drinks contain fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates. All of these components can be performance-enhancing when used correctly.

In general, the average person doesn't need a sports drink for exercise less than 60 minutes, in normal conditions. As long as you've got water and are going to eat relatively soon after your workout, sports drinks likely won't provide any additional benefits. If you've got a longer session, back-to-back workouts, or are running in high heat, sports drinks can be a convenient way to get electrolytes, fluid and energy (via sugar).
  1. The sugar in sports drinks is used as a readily available source of energy for your muscles so that they can keep working at a high intensity!I In some cases, the presence of these sugars in the mouth can decrease your "rating of perceived exertion" which means you may feel some mental relief from the physical stress of exercise. The theory here is that your central nervous system senses that energy is on the way and your brain can say "keep going!"
  2. The fluid here works like water in the sense that it's there to keep you hydrated, keep your temperature regulated and all for the transport of nutrients through your body.
  3. The electrolytes (for example, sodium) help retain ingested fluids, and is important in maintaining a healthy fluid balance.
So if you've got a long, hot workout ahead, you may consider trying a sports drink and seeing how you feel. As always, see what works for you!
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