Sep 30, 2011

A New Member to the Sports Drink Family

By Sarah Schutzberger, RD, CSO
You have new cross-trainer shoes for joint support, workout gear to keep you cool as you sweat it out and eight hours of shut-eye to maximize your energy level—so why do you feel worn-out as soon as your workout begins?

Your dietary regimen could be putting a damper on your energy levels.  How you fuel your body is an important part of how you feel during your workouts.  Remember that calorie means energy and proper hydration means energy stability. With a proper balance (especially with these hot summer days) you will have enough energy to keep your exercise intensity maximized. 

So, what does it mean to be properly hydrated? How do you know what is best for you? You walk into the gym or the grocery store and are instantly bombarded with an outrageous array of sports nutrition drinks. Which one to choose? Natural or scientifically proven? They all look so colorful (oh the world of marketing).

First ask yourself: What is the intensity and duration of the exercise you will be performing?

The reason this question is important is because sports drinks are intended mainly for endurance exercise and athletes (however, this does not mean hydration is only important in such a case). It is recommended to consume about 8oz of water or an electrolyte based drink every 15-20 minutes during exercise. Even more so, it is also recommended to consume 30-60 grams of carbs an hour to keep your workout strong. Sports Drinks came about to provide athletes with an “all inclusive”, easy-to-get-down, beverage: carbs, fluids, and electrolytes.

This industry has exploded, introducing the newest member to the Sports Drink family: Coconut Water. A tropical vacation turned sporty. A marketer’s dream come true to be able to label this as “a natural alternative”. You can see the family resemblance when comparing the nutritional composition to a more traditional Sports Drink like Gatorade. The average brand of coconut water “claims” to contain 45 calories, 30mg of sodium, 500mg of potassium and 15 grams of carbs in an 8oz serving. However, sports experts would recommend adding a bit of sodium (salt) to the coconut water to give more balance to this “natural alternative”.

Whatever drink you choose to refuel with, just remember to drink enough to minimize fluid and electrolyte loss during your workout. Drinking too little or too much can be dangerous to your health and can hinder your performance. So cheers… and bottoms up.

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