Sports drinks are often touted to improve athletic performance. Do they really improve athletic performance?
Nutrients in a sports drink
Most sports drinks have their basic nutrients the same: glucose (aka sugar), sodium, and potassium. Most believe that they drink a sports drink to replace electrolytes. While sodium and potassium are lost in sweat you can get about as much potassium in one bite of banana as you can in a whole bottle of sports drink. The other electrolyte, salt is rarely lacking in the American diet. Replacement of electrolytes is a poor reason to drink a sports drink. Glucose, however, is abundant in sports drinks. You might notice that sports drinks are not as sweet as juice or punch. This is because they are often created to be 8% glucose which is less than other sweet drinks. This makes it easily digestible so as not to cause cramps while working out.
When should you use sports drinks
Personal trainers know sports drinks should not be drunk for pleasure or during leisure times. It is easy to consume too many calories this way. Just drink water! Sports drinks should be consumed if you are working out or exercising for at least 60 minutes in the heat and over 90 minutes all other times. It is proven that an performance is enhanced when glucose is consumed during long duration exercise. The human energy systems will utilize the glucose that enters the blood stream as well as the fat stores that it has been using.
Remember: Sports drinks are effective, but should only be consumed during exercise bouts longer than 60 minutes in heat and longer than 90 minutes in more gentle climates.