Thursday, July 19, 2012

What to Drink During Exercise

What should you drink during exercise? Water. Simple. Cheap. Easy. Effective. An interesting feature was published today in BMJ today: The truth about sports drinks. It discusses the complete lack of well-controlled studies demonstrating the dangers of dehydration, or the benefits of sports drinks. The majority of existing studies were financed by the companies that manufacturer sports drinks, or by scientist who have financial ties to the industry. Does that sound dubious to you?
"So how did the importance of hydration gain traction? An investigation by the BMJ has found that companies have sponsored scientists, who have gone on to develop a whole area of science dedicated to hydration."
The Basics:
  • For weight loss sports drinks are especially bad. The almost universal advice is to cut out sugary beverages when trying to lose weight. Goodbye Gatorade! Sports drinks are generally little more than artificially colored sugar water.
  • Drink water when you feel thirsty. The body has a thirst mechanism to protect from dehydration. As long as thirst signals aren't ignored dehydration is not a health problem (see this for more info). No expensive sports drinks needed.
  • Hyponatraemia (drop in serum sodium due to increased fluid intake) is a bigger concern than dehydration in intense exercise and can be fatal.
  • If there is any need for sports drinks it is in serious athletes (most people don't fall into this category). During very long intense workout (4+ hours) if water doesn't seem sufficient some sugar and salt my be beneficial. Instead of a sports drink just add a splash of juice and a pinch of salt to your water.
"Far from sports drinks turning casual runners into Olympic athletes, Noakes suggests: “If they avoided the sports drink they would get thinner and run faster.”"

1 comment:

  1. For awhile I thought I needed the Gatorade type things for my workouts/long runs etc. But really water is best for me. I don't need the sugary drinks unless I'm on a long bike ride (40 miles or more).