Are sports drinks any good?


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 drink.

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.

A sports drink is a sports drink is a sports drink
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

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 start ASAP.

Protein drinks
Many protein drinks are used by bodybuilders and strength/power athletes who feel they need extra protein to maintain or increase muscle bulk and tone.

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 diet.

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.

The sports drink for me is ...
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.



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All information on this website is for information only. offers no medical advice or information. Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise