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When Should You Drink Sports Drinks?

By Staff, 07/30/18, 10:15AM EDT

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With good marketing and some of the bigger names in sports endorsing them sports drinks have become a major player for shelf space in the supermarket and a popular tool for hydration. But should we be drinking them all the time? Or is water the only answer? A lot of this depends on the type of exercise you're doing and the goals you want to accomplish with that specific workout. In this weeks sponsor spotlight our friends at Ortho Carolina are here to give you the right advice on what to drink and when: 


Sports drinks vs water: When is it best to drink either?  The answer isn’t as simple as people think it is.  Your choice of hydration depends on whether your primary goal is rehydration, keeping your body cool and maintaining fluid balance, or replenishment of energy, restocking sugar and electrolyte stores.  As a general rule, the higher the amount of carbohydrates in your beverage, the slower the absorption rate is.  Consequently, plain water passes through the body too quickly without providing the needed sugar to boost the insulin response and start the recovery phase.  The type of workout you are performing (pre, during or post) along with the intensity of your workout will determine the needs of water or a sports drink.

Most sports drinks are in the middle of the spectrum regarding absorption rate.  Water being the most readily absorbed and items like fruit juice have the greatest amount of sugar concentration and being the least absorbable. Most sports drinks contain a higher amount of sugar than that of our body fluids and are not readily absorbed into the blood stream which is not optimal for hydration. Before and during intense training, your primary goal should be rehydration making water, heavily diluted sports drinks and water with electrolyte tablets your best choice. Intense training is defined as training over 60 minutes or less than 60 minutes at an intense pace.  Electrolytes, especially sodium, and potassium, reduce urine output, speeds the rate at which fluids leave the stomach, and promotes absorption from the small intestine which ultimately encouraging fluid retention. 


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