We must have seen catchy ads saying how sports drinks can transform us as stronger & faster athletes. Often, popping up a can with flashy colors and unique flavors may even tempt us to try one! And yes, experts say that they can provide hydration and improve performance. But for most people, water is still a healthier choice. In this article, we will discuss in detail sports drinks.
What is a Sports Drink?
A sports drink contains carbohydrates which is usually a calorie-free artificial sweetener or some type of sugar. These beverages contain water and electrolytes, minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium. Electrolytes are needed to maintain the fluid levels in our bodies. And when we sweat, we tend to lose electrolytes.
Who Benefits Most from Sports Drinks?
When you continuously exercise for more than an hour, sports drinks with electrolytes will help reduce fatigue and improve performance. Sports drinks can also help in staying hydrated during shorter workouts on humid, hot days. Consuming sports drinks during exercise helps the body to gain electrolytes and fluids to prevent dehydration.
During prolonged exercises, it helps in providing carbohydrates to the muscles. Sports drinks may be beneficial for those participating in marathon running, triathlons, long-distance cycling, and events with similar intensity and duration. Drinking only water might make endurance athletes experience cramps, low sodium levels in the blood, leading to symptoms like seizure, confusion, etc.
Sports Drink vs Water
Some experts say that hydration can also be accomplished by drinking water and electrolytes through a diet that is naturally rich in electrolytes. Water is considered a healthier choice because the added calories and sugar in sports drinks carry a higher risk of developing complications from health conditions like type 2 diabetes and obesity. A study found that sports drinks are associated with higher risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc.
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Benefits of Sports Drinks
1. Replacing Electrolytes
The main difference between sports drinks and water is the electrolyte content. During an intense exercise session, you may sweat and lose your electrolyte levels. Drinking plain water may not replace the electrolytes and this will not be an issue if you are exercising only for a shorter time. It can be an issue when you work out for a longer time.
2. Replacing lost fluids
Sports drinks help in replacing lost fluids. People who don’t prefer to drink plain water like to drink flavored sports drinks. This helps in meeting their fluid needs during their exercise.
Types of Sports Drinks
There are 3 types of sports drinks that come with various levels of electrolytes, fluids, and carbohydrates:
It quickly replaces lost fluids. It has a higher concentration of sugar & salt and has very low carbohydrates.
It contains similar concentrations of sugar & salt just like the human body. With an increase of carbohydrates, it will quickly replace the lost fluids due to exercise.
It helps in supplementing the daily carbohydrate intake required for our body. It carries high levels of carbohydrates which helps in providing maximum energy. They are best considered after exercise as it replaces glycogen levels quickly. They carry low concentration of sugar & salt than the human body. Currently, only very few are available in the market.
1. Why are sports drinks bad for you?
If you are less active, it is not recommended to get extra sodium and sugar. The extra calories that you get by consuming sports drinks may contribute to weight gain and the extra sodium is associated with a high risk of high blood pressure.
2. What do sports drinks do to your body?
People drink sports drinks to replace lost fluid (rehydrate) and electrolytes due to sweat after an activity like exercising. For athletes, it may help in improving their performance. It is mostly consumed by those who indulge in intense activities.
3. Is drinking sports drinks every day bad for you?
Drinking sports drinks every day is not recommended because extra sugar or sodium content is not necessary throughout the day. Also, the extra calories that you get by drinking sports drinks can lead to weight gain/obesity.