Sports drinks: Are they necessary after a workout? We ask a fitness and nutrition expert
Sports drinks, which essentially contain water (for hydration), sugar (for energy) and minerals (such as sodium and potassium), are designed to prevent dehydration by replenishing lost fluids and electrolytes after a sweat sesh. And often, they claim to hydrate better than water, and help maintain performance during endurance exercise. But are they really better than plain old H2O?
"If you've trained hard and sweat a lot, especially if the weather is hot, a sports drink can be beneficial in helping you recover," says Thabata Da Costa Manso, Fitness and Nutrition Expert at Evolve MMA. "The water, carbohydrates, sodium and potassium found in these drinks help you stay hydrated and replace what you've lost. Also, drinking something that has protein after a workout can help to stimulate protein synthesis during recovery, and is especially important for athletes who train twice a day or more."
What if your daily exercise regime is less than an hour? Da Coasta Manso says water is just fine. "A general benchmark you can go with is to consume 15 to 20 ounces of water before a workout, at least seven to 10 ounces of water during, and around eight to 10 ounces of water should be consumed within 30 minutes to keep the body sufficiently hydrated," she advises.
Now, we get it, water is boring. A bottle of cold, slightly-sweetened beverage when you're all hot and thirsty after a sweat fest is very appealing. Research has shown that, according to an article on The Telegraph, that "certain receptors in the mouth acknowledge the presence of sugar and send reward and pleasure signals to the brain."
But of course, not all sports drinks are created equal. Many of them are loaded with sugar. Some are carbonated, which may upset your stomach. "The recommended intake can differ based on your exercise goals, but around 15 grams of carbohydrates, 100 milligrams of sodium, and 30 milligrams of potassium in an 8-ounce drink is a guideline you can use," says Da Coasta Manso.
So read the label and consume — as with most — in moderation. If you're doing an hour-long HIIT class, an outdoor run or hot yoga, by all means help yourself to a Pocari. In case you don't already know, it's formulated with a composition close to the body's natural fluids to aid absorption, and the sachet form has been a part of the SAF combat ration pack for more than 20 years. How's that for endurance?