Monday, May 14, 2012

Myth: You Need a Sports Drink When Exercising to Replenish Your Body's Electrolytes/Minerals/Etc

This is one of those myths that got carried away from its original intent. Sports drinks are important for improving performance in high-intensity exercise that lasts longer than an hour. Think of a marathon or triathlon. The reason: sports drinks provide water to replace what is lost in sweat and sugar (glucose), the fuel muscles need most in intense exercise. What about low-intensity exercise though, or people who just hit the treadmill for a half-hour every night after work, or bike around town on the weekends? Not necessary at all. For
lower intensity or shorter duration exercise sports drinks are not needed. In fact, if you are exercising with the goal of losing weight, the calories in the sports drink you consume might offset the calories you burned during exercise!

This is a good point, one often ignored in the ads for sugary, high-calorie vitamin drinks and energy drinks that make you think you need them if you're planning to hit the gym at all. Those drinks are highly beneficial to the people who need them, and they have their place, but for most people doing moderate exercise, water will do. I'm not the only person who thinks so, although sports drink manufacturers would disagree (and indeed, the self-styled "Gatorade Sports Science Institute" has an entire page dedicated to why sports drinks are great for everyone.)