Sport drink commercials would like us to believe that we will perform better – or as good as the pros – if we drink their products. Is this true? Are sport drink products better than water alone?
Research suggests that if our activity lasts more than an hour, with vigorous activity (such as competitive endurance events, summer conditioning, or in hot environments), a sports drink is better than drinking water alone. The carbohydrates and electrolytes in the sports drink do help replenish those that are lost during your activity.
However, that also means they are not necessary for most weight training programs. Your program should not last for more than an hour and many programs have rest periods that last longer than you are actually active. Your carbohydrate stores are not exhausted enough for you to require any need for a sports drink. There still are exceptions: the environmental conditions, exercise intensity, acclimatization, aerobic fitness level, hydration status, age and gender can all have an effect on you will perform during your workout.
If you routinely train intensely for more than an hour, you will have to deal with dehydration. During endurance exercise, the research suggests 150 to 350 mL (6 to 12 oz) of fluid should be consumed every 15 to 20 minutes. There has not been any recommendations established for resistance training and fluid losses alone, however, this same recommendation can also apply. Your rate of fluid loss while exercising will depend on the same conditions listed above (i.e. environmental conditions, intensity of play, etc.).
In order to replenish lost glycogen during your training, bring a water bottle containing a solution of six to seven percent carbohydrate and electrolytes, such as Cytomax, Heed, G Push or Hammer Gel. Try to avoid Gatorade, Powerade or any of the common sport drinks seen on commercials because they contain a considerable amount of table sugar, which may lead to nausea, diarrhea and/or poor replacement of muscle glycogen.
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