Water or Sports Drinks?
Having a sports background, I’ve always enjoyed a sports drink after a pickup game or competition. I watched commercials with my favorite athletes drinking sports drinks, sweating out colored drops and getting back into competition after being refueled. I always enjoyed the taste of sports drinks but I always wondered, are they better for me than water when it comes to exercise?
Our bodies are made mostly of water, therefore replenishing the body’s system of water is essential to survival. When exercising it is even more essential to replenish your fluids. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (http://acsm.org/) people on average lose 2% to 6% of their body weight during exercise because of the body’s lose of water through sweat. In recent time sports drinks have been developed to take place of water as the hydration source for exercise.
Water has been the staple of hydration since the beginning of time and nobody is going to say water is a poor choice when it comes to hydration during exercise.
But are sports drinks better? Sports drinks offer a better taste than water, they contain electrolytes, and they contain carbohydrates as well. Your body loses electrolytes during exercise, which water does not replace and with added carbohydrates from sports drinks your body can use them as an energy source. In fact, exercising for an hour or more requires the use of electrolytes and carbohydrates
So does this mean that sports drinks are the new staple for hydration? Not necessarily. As sports drinks have more in them than water, which can be beneficial, this also means that it also has to be filtered by the body where water absorbs easier. By being quickly absorbed, water can be used more efficiently and thus can be a better option. Sports drinks also have added sugar (carbohydrates) which have the possibility to raise sugar levels if the exercise routine is not intense enough (not lasting more than an hour).
So the general consensus is that both are good options but for different purposes. Water is the best fluid retention drink for everyday use. It is also the better option for daily physical activity and moderate exercise. Sports drinks only have the advantage when exercise is intense enough that is needs electrolytes and the added sugars or carbohydrates for energy. Whichever option you choose, at the very least just make sure you hydrate before, during, and after your workout.