Sports Drinks – Do They Help Athletes Perform Better?

by Krishna Bora on  August 2, 2012 at 11:17 AM Health Watch
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It is important for sportspersons to keep hydrated for optimal performance during exercise. After extensive researches and tests done by exercise and sports scientists, a final product came out which came close to meeting the the expectations and sports drinks came into existence. Sports drinks are widely promoted and used and many of them claim to provide instant energy after workouts. Sports drinks are designed as alternate to water. They replace the electrolytes lost with the sweat during the workout, prevent fatigue and enhance the performance of the athlete in sports.
 Sports Drinks – Do They Help Athletes Perform Better?
Sports Drinks – Do They Help Athletes Perform Better?

Sports drink like Gatorade and Powerade are designed to provide immediate energy and fluid balance post workouts and heavy exercises. They contain the primary electrolytes and carbohydrates used by the exercising muscles and maintain the exercise and sports performance. The electrolytes in these sports drinks help to maintain a safe water-to-sodium ratio during prolonged workouts. When we sweat, we lose many essential electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate and sulphate. Loss of these electrolytes causes fatigue and can wear out the muscles causing damage to them. The sports drinks contain all these essential electrolytes at the correct ratio and help the body to absorb them quicker. The carbohydrate and glucose content in them prevents fatigue and tiredness and renews energy in the athletes.

A study conducted to compare the efficacy of water and sports drink was done on a set of athletes. The results showed that the sports drink were the best option for re-hydrating the body, since they were successfully absorbed by the body and the athletes felt energized as compared to normal water. Sports drinks have proved to be beneficial over water during exercises and strenuous activities in many other similar studies. Studies show that taking water during any kind of heavy exercise and workout dilutes the sodium and potassium levels and leads to water intoxication or hyponatremia.

With the pros, sports drinks also come with the cons. If sports drinks are taken if hardly any exercise was done, it leads to weight-gain. Most of the sports drinks contains a higher or equal amount of sugars to provide carbohydrates in the body. Taking too many carbohydrates can raise your insulin levels in blood, leading to fat storage. Sports drinks also contain permitted colors, which have a tendency to stain your teeth and harm your teeth enamel. Hence, it is very important to take sports drink only in case of strenuous exercises.

Sports drinks shouldn't be mistaken as energy drinks. Energy drinks like Red Bull and Cloud 9 contain high amount of sugar, caffeine and flavors. The high amount of sugar and caffeine keeps a person energized for a few hours and cuts fatigue. Several cases have come to light where excessive intake of energy drinks proved fatal to many youngsters and hence is banned in many countries. Unlike sports drinks, energy drinks don't replenish the lost electrolytes in the body.

There is always a stiff competition among the top companies manufacturing sports drink to be named the official providers in important international sports events around the world. Powerade, the sports drink manufactured by the Coca Cola Company is the official sports drink of the London 2012 Olympic games.

Source: Medindia

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