Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Are Sports Drinks Really Necessary When Working Out?

I know people who always have bottles of sports drinks with them when they work out, play sports, or perform some other physical activity.  I'm one of those people who only have water with a bit of lemon, lime, or orange juice added so it is lightly flavored.  I've wondered if it drinking a sports drink is important when working out. 

Let's start with what a sports drink is.  By definition, it is a soft drink that is designed or marketed to be consumed at a sports event, or strenuous activity.  In addition, it contains certain electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and chloride and simple sugar to restore energy.  They are designed to replenish glucose, fluids, and electrolytes people lose during strenuous activity.  

If you listen to people talk, they mention electrolytes which are minerals found in our blood and other body fluids.  Electrolytes have an electrical charge that help activate tissues such as muscles and nerves.  Electrolytes are designed to keep our bodies running. Normally, our bodies are fine but occasionally if you become extremely dehydrated due to illness or extreme sweating and we need to replace the lost electrolytes. When we do not have enough electrolytes, the signals running in our bodies do not work as well so we experience headaches, cramping, and dizziness.

Furthermore, if we don't get enough sodium and other minerals in the fluid we are consuming to replace what was lost via sweating, we can end up with cramps, heat illness, and we don't perform as well. If we lose too much fluid and do not replace it properly, we can end up extremely sick or die.

The amount of fluid lost depends on the way our individual bodies work and the conditions we are working out in.  The conditions include duration and intensity of exercise, temperature and humidity of our environment, level of fitness, weight, and how much we sweat.  In other words, if we workout in a cool dry environment we might only lose 250 ml of fluid in an hour where as if we are working out in a hot humid place, we are likely to lose between 2 and 3 liters of fluid. 

 In addition, the primary metal we lose is sodium and again the amount lost varies from person to person.  if we lose too much sodium, we face having hyponatremia or being over hydrated due to having too much fluid and not enough sodium but the symptoms of hyponatremia is similar to those of dehydration. This makes it hard to diagnose but people are more likely to be dehydrated. It is better to drink fluids when you are thirsty rather than chugging a bunch of liquid when you are not thirsty.

Most experts recommend people stick with regular water especially if they haven't sweated a lot.  You don't need the extra calories and sugar found in the sports drink.  If you exercise intensely for over an hour, or the temperature is hot and it is especially humid and you are sweating a lot, then consider consuming a sports drink.  On the other hand, they say that if you drink water with a bit of salt in it or pairing water with a salty snack, will do the same thing as consuming a sports drink. 

It is strongly recommended that you make sure you are hydrated before beginning to exercise, consume liquid during and after working out but if you are really sweating, make sure you get something salty with the liquid to replace any sodium you've lost.  So you really don't need to consume a sports drink to replenish your electrolytes and stay hydrated.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

No comments:

Post a Comment