With all of the sports drinks saturating the beverage market, perhaps you’ve questioned what the differences are among them or which are the best for athletes. While they all seem to claim their own health “benefits”, researchers at sports medicine schools and many professional athletes seem to think that keeping it simple is key.
Nothing is better than water.
Our bodies are comprised of approximately 70-percent water. When you work out, you sweat and you lose water concentration. It’s important to drink enough water before and during a work out to maintain energy during the work out. Not only does water transport oxygen and glucose through your body, but water also helps to maintain flexibility and strength within your muscles as well as keeping your joints agile and lubricated.
While you might be attracted to the wide variety of flavors in juice or sports drinks, these types of beverages might actually hinder a workout. Drinks with high sugar content will actually cause your body to become dehydrated and make you thirstier.
It’s likely you’ve heard the advice that it is important to try and drink a least eight glasses of water a day. In order to avoid dehydration, if the weather is really hot or you are increasing your workout, you should try to drink more than eight glasses per day. The more you sweat the more water you’ll need to replenish and stay hydrated. Not drinking enough water can cause your head to ache and decrease your energy. These are early warning signs of dehydration, which you should try to avoid at all costs.
Another drink that may not be given as much attention as water but that can be very beneficial to athletes might come as a surprise: Chocolate milk. A study by physiologist Joel Stager, director of the Human Performance laboratory at Indiana University reports that drinking chocolate milk after rigorous exercise can help recharge tired muscles by providing carbohydrates and aid towards post-workout recovery. The carbs and protein found in chocolate milk give your muscles something to metabolize and offer significant health benefits, especially to athletes.
However, be careful because if you just finished a workout or had a practice, water is just fine. Drinks like chocolate milk and gatorade are more meant for recovery after more rigorous exercise or a more prolonged length of time (like after a full day of games). Your best bet is to choose water.