If you train to a fairly high level (3 - 5 times a week for at 45 -
90 minutes), chances are you could benefit from taking on board a sports
Sports drinks fall into various categories, as we will soon see. But the
premise of each is very similar - improved recovery rates. Improving our
recovery rate from exercise training means that we can train harder and
longer next time, which in turn can result in increased gains in fitness,
muscle bulk, muscle tone and a better overall appearance and sports performance.
Not all sports drinks are the same. Not all sports drinks perform
the same task. We will briefly look at the types of sports drinks available
in today's market and in doing so we will uncover there true benefit.
Isotonic sports drinks - Lucozade Sport etc. - provide fluid, energy and
electrolyte replenishment. These components are depleted during exercise
due primarily to an increased perspiration level - we literally sweat these
elements out out.
Of course fluid (water) replacement is important - if water isn't replaced
in our exercising system we rapidly dehydrate and in extreme cases exercise
must cease completely. In more normal cases exercise performance dips far
below an optimal level.
Electrolytes are essentially salts lost in sweat. Replacing them will aid
the digestion and osmosis of fluid absorbed into body's working muscles
without them the fluid within the drink will not be fully absorbed and the
effects of dehydration will still soon rear their ugly head.
Energy within isotonic drinks comes in the from of glucose. This is used
by working muscles as fuel during exercise training. Replenishing them during
training will allow your to train longer than if you just took plain water
on board. Drinking an isotonic sports drink directly after exercise will
allow the body's recovery rate to improve as glycogen re-synthesis will
Many protein drinks are used by bodybuilders and strength/power athletes
who feel they need extra protein to maintain or increase muscle bulk and
Although it is true that strength athletes need more protein than your average
Joe, this additional protein can usually be found in your typical Western
Note: Some protein drinks consist of separate amino acids - the building
blocks of protein. Research has shown that the body may absorb single amino
acids better than acids found in foods and broken down via the digestion
process. This may in fact aid the recovery process.
This entirely depends on your training goals and exercise objectives. If
you are a strength athlete you may benefit from drinking a protein drink
directly after training. Increases in protein within the body enhances glycogen
re-synthesis, which is an important component of recovery and the primary
process in post-training muscle replenishment.
If you are an endurance athlete, or you main exercise objective is increased
fitness or body fat management, then drinking a post-exercise isotonic drink
will allow you to train sooner, to train harder or slightly longer during
your next session - obviously this must be coupled with a balanced diet
and adequate recovery time.
Note: If your exercise program consist of continuos aerobic training for
more than 60 minutes, then drinking an isotonic drink every 15 minutes while
exercising should improve the performance of that particular session.