5 Hydration Dos and Dont's
Drink up! But what?
2. Do Consider Sports Drinks During Intense Workouts
When you exercise heavily, you lose water and salts in your
sweat. Gatorade was an advance over water because it added a number of
electrolytes that were lost in sweat, says Steven Zeisel, MD, PHD, chairman of
nutrition at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Today's true sports drinks are still the classic Gatorade --
packed with the electrolytes potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium to
provide energy during intense workouts -- as well as competitors such as
Cytomax, Allsport, and Accelerade.
Take a swig of an electrolyte drink, and you make sure your
body doesn't overheat. You also give yourself an energy source -- one that only
serious athletes need, Zeisel tells WebMD. "The amount of sugar in the sports
drinks is relatively small compared to the amount of sugar someone burns in
exercise. But clearly, it's better than nothing as a calorie source."
"Certainly for people engaging in exercise in a hot
environment, an electrolyte replacer can be a lifesaver," he says.
Electrolyte drinks provide the body with fuel in the right
quantities, so you don't get an upset stomach, says Bonci. "And the
carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium help move fluid more quickly out of the
body and into the muscles, where it needs to be during exercise."
3. Don't Bother With Electrolyte-Plus Drinks
Any add-ons to the basic electrolyte drink -- whether it's
choline, creatine, or something else -- "makes no difference to anyone except
the professional who cares whether they finish 1/10th or 1/000th of a second
faster than the other person," says Zeisel. "Most everyday athletes are not
going to notice or care about it. But for the person who won the Boston
Marathon, it might be what they need."
As far as the protein drinks, unless you're biking the Tour de
France or something similarly grueling, your body isn't going to require that
protein surge, Zeisel says. "If you're eating protein in your meals, that's
much more protein than you'll get in the drink. [The drinks are] supposed to
spare your muscle protein, but in reality it's a marginal gain. Just eating
protein will do that much."