What to Drink When You Exercise
The options include sports drinks, energy drinks, and just regular water.
Energy Drinks for Exercisers
What about energy drinks for exercisers? Is there anything to them, besides
plenty of caffeine?
The truth is that it depends on the energy drink. Red Bull, among the
biggest names in energy drinks, pumps in 106 calories of carbohydrates (27
grams), and 193 milligrams of sodium along with its jolt of caffeine.
Sugar-free energy drinks, meanwhile, give you the jolt without the carbs and
Clark believes energy drinks do have their place. She says there is clear
evidence caffeine is a nonharmful stimulant that provides performance-enhancing benefits, which can include improved
endurance, stamina, and reaction time.
"In most cases caffeine stimulates alertness, motor skill, and
concentration," says Clark.
She warns, however, that caffeine is banned by the National Collegiate
Athletic Association at levels equivalent to five Starbucks coffees. But
drinking one Red Bull, for example, provides about 70 milligrams of caffeine,
which is less than what you'll find in one Starbucks coffee (260 milligrams per
Overuse of caffeine can cause the jitters, so exercisers just need to know
how much to consume for their personal comfort, warns Clark.
Assorted other ingredients are added to some of these energy drinks, such
- Taurine, which is similar to an amino acid but not considered a component
of proteins. Glucuronolactone, a compound produced by the metabolism of glucose
in the human liver. It's purported -- but not proven -- to fight fatigue.
- Ginkgo biloba, which is thought to help prevent mental decline but again,
this theory is up for debate.
- Ginseng, which is promoted for energy and mental alertness, but the
specifics of its effects aren't clear.
- Guarana, which is nicknamed "herbal caffeine." This is a stimulant
similar to caffeine, and so should be used only in moderation.
What's in Your Exercise Drink?
Below is some nutritional information, as available on labels, about some of
the common sports and energy drinks available. And here's one more tip for
staying hydrated when you work out: Whatever you choose to drink when you
exercise, drink it well-chilled for faster absorption by the body.
Sports drinks (8 ounces):
Gatorade: 50 calories, 14 grams sugar (from sucrose syrup and
high-fructose corn syrup), 110 mg sodium, caffeine-free. Other ingredients:
potassium (30 mg). Vitamins (percentage of recommended Daily Value):
Propel Fitness Water: 10 calories, 2 grams sugar (from sucrose
syrup; also sweetened with sucralose or Splenda), 35 mg sodium, caffeine-free.
Other ingredients: None. Vitamins (% Daily Value): 10% vitamin C; 10% vitamin
E; 25% B3 and B6; 4% B12, 25% pantothenic acid.