For any person, staying hydrated is very important. After all, the body is made up mostly of water. If you don’t replace it when it’s lost, it can cause a major problem. So, for athletes and serious exercisers, hydration becomes an even more constant issue. For many people, sports drinks seem like the simple answer. To understand whether or not sports drinks really work and, if so, how they work, there are some things that you need to understand about your body, though.
The Problem With Water:
A lot of people drink regular water to re-hydrate their bodies. While it’s great to make the effort to stay hydrated, the problem with plain wateris that it doesn’t contain those vital electrolytes. If you don’t replenish those electrolytes, you leave yourself just as open to heat exhaustion and heat stroke anyway. That’s where sports drinks can come in handy.
This isn’t to say that you should only drink sports drinks. If you drink a high-sugar sports drink you risk dehydrating yourself, especially during long exercise sessions.
The first thing you need to know is how sweating works. Sweat is the way that our bodies regulate their inner temperatures. If we didn’t sweat, we’d leave ourselves wide open for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
As we all know, intense exercise makes us sweat more. What are we actually sweating out, though?
Well, yes, there is some water loss when we sweat. For athletes and exercise fiends, though, it’s also all about the electrolytes. Electrolytes are a series of minerals that are also lost through sweating. There are many of them, but a few of the ones you might recognize includecalcium, magnesium and potassium.
Sports Drinks Versus Energy Drinks:
Before we can talk about how sports drinks help with electrolyte levels, as well as energy, we have to make a distinction. That distinction is between sports drinks and energy drinks. Energy drinks can better be defined as high-caffeine drinks. They’re full of sugar, caffeine and other stimulants. Those stimulants can cause a burst of energy, but they come with many problems.
The problems with energy drinks can be summed up as:
- Energy drinks aren’t useful to drink during a run or a workout routine because they can take two to four hours to have any effects at all on your energy levels.
- Most energy drinks are diuretics. In other words, they pull water out of your body more than they put it in, dehydrating you. That can be inconvenient, since you may have to stop mid-workout to go to the bathroom.
- Since they can cause severe dehydration, drinking energy drinks during exercise could lead to kidney damage.Sports drinks, on the other hand, are made up of much more useful components. For example, they can contain potassium, sodium and carbohydrates (depending on the type of sports drink it is). Carbohydrates are essential many athletes, since they help with energy conversion to keep your body fueled during the day. That’s why some athletes choose to eat foods that contain carbs before a race.
The Three Types of Sports Drinks:
There are three main types of sports drinks available to you. They’re known as hypotonic, hypertonic and isotonic drinks. They can be broken down as follows:
- Isotonic drinks contain high levels of carbohydrates. So, they’d be great for the athletes mentioned above. Certain athletes don’t need as many carbs, though.
- Hypotonic drinks contain more water than electrolytes. Jockeys, for instance, don’t need as much of a carb boost. So, hyportonic sports drinks would be fine for them.
- Hypertonic sports drinks are useful for long events, like marathons. However, they should be used along with isotonic sports drinks for the best results.
When To Use Sports Drinks:
The final question is when do you use sports drinks? Think of them, mainly anyway, as a preventative measure. You should try to drink a good amount before your workout. You can also take small sips as you work out, in order to replace liquids lost during the exercise routine. However, the exact amounts that you need are going to vary a bit, depending on how intense your exercise routine actually is.
A weight lifter, for example, is going to need a different amount from a marathon runner. The runner, in turn, is going to need a different amount from someone who is just going for a short walk on a treadmill in their living room. So, you should talk to your doctor or personal trainer about the right sports drinks and the right amounts of those drinks to keep your body hydrated and your energy stores stocked.