Sports Drinks / Energy Drinks
There are a dazzling array of sports and energy drinks on the market, most of which promise to boost your performance and help you perform better and for longer.
Some of the claims seem quite fantastic and you need to be cautious with what you are expecting from them. As Wilf Paish, one of the UKs top coaches for many years, once said to me "Many are just expensive sugar!".
However, there is science behind many of the drinks and they can give you an advantage over just having water. Here we are going to describe some of the types of drinks available, we'll leave you to decide whether you want to try Isostar, Lucozade, Red Bull, Gatorade or one of the other brands that are available to you. It is worth checking the ingredients, as in many cases you'll find that supermarkets "own" brands contain exactly the same as the brand name ones which cost twice the price
There is a destinction between sports drinks and energy ones. The main one being that many of the energy ones will give you a bit of a chemical boost - usually in the form of caffeine, which can be in the form of guarana. They may also contain vitamins and other herbs ingredients to boost your "energy", although you do need to be careful as drinking too many can lead to health problems.
In terms of pure sports drinks, which usually contain carbohydrates, but can also contain protein. There are 3 types of drinks containing carbohydrates.
The idea is to get energy back into the body to continue performing at a good level, or to start the recovery process. The 3 types are
Hypotonic which has sugar levels lower than in the body. These are good for drinking during training and competition where the water content is the most important thing. Used where the energy needs are low - jockeys have particular use for this kind of drink as they wish to keep their body weight down.
Isotonic drinks have the same level of sugar (about 50-70g carbohydrates / litre). They are in balance with the bodies fluids and are easily absorbed in the stomach, so can start recovery processes very quickly. Most athletes find this kind of drink the most useful.
Hypertonic which are very carbohydrate heavy and are used for recovery. Often these will be a mixture of sugars and complex carbohydrates as very quick release into the body is not essential and it avoid hypo-glycaemia.
Protein drinks are a good supplement for those who are not getting enough protein, although it is worth assessing if you need to boost as most people get enough from their regular diet.
It is perfectly possible to make your own sports drinks, with glucose and a pinch of salt (about 2g/litre) for a fraction of the price of branded products. Use about 50g of sugars (or ideally glucose) per litre of drink.
The information here is written by an athletics coach who has read widely into the subject and not a sports nutritionist, so is about gearing your food and drink to the practicalities of running.
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- How to Prepare for Races
- Calorie Requirements
- Losing Weight when Running
- Gaining Muscle Nutrition Advice
- Fluid Intake
- Vitamins and Minerals
- Fish Oils
- Bicarbonate of Soda