Are Sports Drinks Really Effective?

In a previous blog post, we talked about some common mistakes that people make while trying to lose weight. Today, we will continue with our Fitness Myths topic and discuss one more common myths that centre on sports drinks, potions, pills, and powders. Let’s dive right in and see if sports drinks are really effective…

Are sports drinks effective and needed to replace electrolytes during exercise?

This myth is a tricky one in the fact that it’s true for SOME situations, but not for most people.

These drinks are highly beneficial when you exercise at high intensities for long durations (90+ minutes), particularly in hot environments, but NOT for your average gym workout or fitness class.

The benefit of these beverages comes from replacing water and electrolytes lost through sweat, and adding easily used calories in the form of glucose (sugar) to power the hard work your muscles are doing. These electrolytes are primarily sodium and chloride, but also potassium, calcium, and magnesium in lower quantities.

Examples of the type of activity benefited by a sports drink would be a long run, bike ride, or adventure/obstacle type event. Extended training sessions for these activities would also count.

Are sports drinks effective for 60-90 minutes of exercise?

The 60-90 minute exercise time frame is a bit of a grey area where some people may find benefits from sports drinks, and others will be fine with plain water. Sports drink companies will try to convince you that anyone who exercises will benefit from consuming their product, but that simply isn’t true.

If you aren’t working at high intensity, or for long periods of time, your body simply doesn’t need this extra fluid, electrolyte replacement, or extra calories. This is something particularly true if you have weight loss goals.

If you are attending a spin class, running on the treadmill for a ½ hour, or doing a strength training session, save the sports drinks for when your body really needs them.

On a related note, most sports drinks are simply crap.

They are basically non-carbonated sugar water and filled with all kinds of chemicals, artificial colours and flavours. Not something you want to be putting in your healthy, active body on a regular basis.

If you are an endurance athlete and in need of these types of drinks on a regular basis, you can easily make your own, or search out a pretty simple and you can make your own. There are many recipes online, and you will need to experiment a little to find out what works best for you, but the 3 main components are:

  • Water (regular, coconut, or a mixture)

  • Electrolytes (salt, potassium, magnesium, calcium – typically in powdered form)

  • Calories and flavour (eg. fruit juice, honey, etc.)

There are many combinations you can make within this framework, but the good news is that you control the inputs and know what you are consuming.

If you need help, we are more than willing to help you even if you only need a piece of advice. Just book your FREE Success Coaching Session with FRESH! team. 

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