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Do I really need sports drinks for exercise?

Do I really need sports drinks for exercise?

We all know that it’s important to drink water when exercising, since it’s plain to see the water loss that occurs through sweat. But why do so many people opt for sports drinks after a workout? And are these beverages really necessary? Let’s find out.

A brief history of sports drinks

In the United States, most people link the beginning of the sports drink industry with the Gatorade brand, famously created at Florida State University in the 1960s. However, the history of sports drinks goes back even earlier, to a drink first called Glucozade, which was invented by a pharmacist in 1927 in the United Kingdom. At the time, the concoction was primarily used to aid in recovery from illnesses by replenishing lost water and electrolytes. As it turns out, that’s also the main function of modern sports drinks!

Can’t I just drink water?

For most people, water is enough to maintain hydration during a workout. However, working out at a high intensity or for an extended period of time may lead to a major loss of electrolytes, resulting in dizziness or fatigue. In this case, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) suggests a sports drink may be beneficial. Most modern sports beverages provide potassium, sodium, and calories in the form of carbohydrates, helping to stave off the symptoms of electrolyte imbalance.

Are there any downsides to sports drinks?

Since the typical sports drink uses sweeteners to cover the sometimes unpleasant flavors of its other ingredients, be sure to read the label before you buy! Quite often, although these drinks don’t taste particularly sweet, they do contain added sugar, sometimes as much as you’ll find in a regular soda! If you need to hydrate but want to avoid processed sugary drinks, you’re better off enjoying a glass of water and a piece of whole fruit after your workout.

Trying to quit your sports drink habit?

Get educated about the best hydration plan during workouts! According to experts, you shouldn't be chugging water during exercise, but you should be smart about when and how much you drink. Build water drinking into your exercise routine, and you'll be less likely to rely only on sports drinks to stay properly hydrated.

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