Sports recovery drinks have become the go to solution for everyone from casual, weekend athletes to marathoners and everyone in between. You are even more likely than not to see these bottes of colorful liquid at little league practice and games. But are these drinks a better option than good old H2O? In some cases, yes; sports recovery drinks are a great alternative to water. Here are some guidelines.
Use activity level as a gauge
We lose fluids in just the normal course of daily living. Everything from breathing to eliminating solid and liquid waste reduces our fluid levels. How much you lose in a given day will depend on additional factors, such as how active you are. Generally, the more active you are the more fluids you will lose and need to replenish.
Because of concerns about calories, carbs and sugar, experts often recommend that water is sufficient for the task if exercise lasts less than an hour or isn’t particularly strenuous. A sports recovery drink is a better option when you exercise for more than 60 minutes or for a shorter, hard work out that causes you to sweat (i.e. lose a lot of fluid).
The benefits of sports recovery drinks
Recovery drinks include sodium and carbohydrates. Particularly if a hard workout or humid weather conditions cause you to lose a lot of salt through profuse sweating, sports drinks deliver where water can’t. Experts recommend a drink that provides at least 80 mg of sodium per serving. Go higher if you are losing a lot of salt or planning on a long, intense work out. Likewise, for vigorous workouts sports drinks provide the energy you need to perform your best. Water can certainly provide the hydration your body needs to be efficient, but sports drinks provide the fuel your body needs to remain in motion. Going for the long haul workout without the energy you get from sports drinks would be the equivalent of taking a road trip without putting gas in the car.
Sports drinks are popular among marathoners because they replenish lost fluids and electrolytes while providing fuel for the road. You don’t need to be a marathoner to benefit from sports drinks. If you work out for at least an hour or you work out vigorously enough to lose salt through sweating, a sports recovery drink can be just the right fuel for your fitness plans.