Sports Drinks – Are These Necessary?

Sports drinks do benefit people by replenishing their bodies with lost electrolytes and fluids. However, what is necessary for an athlete who is doing the triathlon is not necessary for someone who is maybe just walking for 30 minutes thrice a week. This will perhaps be overkill for the latter. Calories are needed if you do long workouts and if you lose a lot of body fluids. However, if you exercise for less than an hour a day, these are not needed at all. Most people like the taste of this drink and so they have it – not because it is needed.

Sports drinks contain sugar which gives the body energy. It has water which is necessary to hydrate the person, and it contains salts which help in water retention, various electrolytes to replenish the body’s stock as well flavorings and color. There are different concentrations of these which are played around with so as to give the user an instant boost.

The primary function of a sports drink is to prevent dehydration, and those athletes who are training in hot environments lose a lot of fluid rapidly. The stomach processes around a liter an hour of fluid and so if there is a lot of intensity and physical activity, there is a risk that the fluid will be lost faster than it can be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.

A person indulging in moderate exercise should be fine with just plain water, and those who are first-time marathoners need to be cautioned that too much water consumption too quickly can lead to hyponatremia.

Sodium in these drinks should be lesser than what is lost in the sweat. The sugar content should be looked at more closely. If it is too much, the drink will be emptied slower from the stomach and if it is too little, the drink is unpalatable as it has salt in it. So sugar should be in the concentration between 3% – 7%.

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