Before a big game, do you reach in the fridge for a bright colored sports drink or do you prefer a bottle of ice cold water? About 60% of our bodies are made up of water. During exercise we lose a great deal of water, vitamins, and minerals through our sweat. It is essential that athletes rehydrate their bodies in order to perform to the best of their abilities. The question is, what is the healthiest way to hydrate during exercise?
Sports drinks are generally made up of electrolytes and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates include sugars which aid energy levels and fuel muscles. Electrolytes include vitamins and minerals that are lost in sweat. Increased consumption of carbohydrates and electrolytes help to replace the nutrients being lost during high intensity exercises. Key word, high intensity. Sports drinks also often include sweeteners and preservatives. These extra sugars are not beneficial when you are not burning them fast enough. Sports drinks can become impractical when you are not exercising at a high enough level.
On the other hand, the main ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine. These drinks also contain added sugars, sweeteners, and preservatives. Energy drinks are advertised towards athletes to help stimulate their energy levels and boost their performance. Caffeine is a stimulant and when used in moderation, is shown to increase energy and focus. However, when your body becomes reliant on caffeine for energy, you can experience sluggish withdrawals. Increased consumption of energy drinks can lead to dehydration, increased heart-rates, and lower energy crashes.
The lesson here is to take everything in moderation. During long or intense workouts, sports drinks can be extremely beneficial for replenishment. Energy drinks can also give you that added kick of energy, but you should be aware of the added caffeine and sugar levels. If you are going for a casual walk around the neighborhood, you should stick to water and avoid the added sugars.
Staying hydrated before, during, and after athletic endeavors is essential for your endurance and overall health. When in doubt, a big jug of water will surely get the job done.
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