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Should you go for that big gulp?

 | July 18, 2012

Let your situation decide whether you need a sports drink.


THERE is a reason why doctors and sports nutritionists advocate sports drinks to endurance and pro athletes. With the average 330ml can having 80 calories and a cocktail mix of sugar and salt, the drink helps replenish the electrolytes and glycogen lost during intensive training.

If you’re an average gym goer, however, you might want to think twice about downing the drink. Calories aside, the sugar and long list of shudder-worthy ingredients may even compromise the workout you just had.

According to WebMD, if the average exerciser works out in an air-conditioned environment and does not seem to sweat a lot, the energy drink may not be necessary. Instead, water remains the best hydrator for the body. This applies also to the weekend exercise warrior and those who do a 45-miunute pilates class.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to down a sports drink after any workout. But when you consider the reasons behind many of us exercising – and that is to maintain or lose weight and be healthy – the 60 grammes of carbohydrates in a 1-litre sports drink easily translates to 960 kilojoules. Now that is a considerable dent to any caloric maintenance.

The good news is, there are better options beyond sports drinks post workout.

Studies done on some solid foods, such as bananas and raisins, show that they may be just as effective in replenishing lost electrolytes. A banana, for example, contains 422mg of potassium, a mineral lost during intense exercising.

Researchers at Appalachian State University also point out that bananas have natural antioxidants that could help reduce muscle damage and soreness after a workout, and that gives the fruit an advantage over drinking a sports drink.

As a rule of thumb, drink water when you’re exercising for an hour or less. Consider sports drink when your workout is intense and go beyond 90 minutes. Be careful not to confuse a sports drink with an energy drink. The latter often contains more carbohydrates and stimulants like caffeine.


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