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Sports Drinks – Are they good or bad for you?

You see them displayed in the supermarket chiller promising to pep up energy levels when you need it the most but in reality, how good or bad are sports drinks for you? If you have watched a sports drink ad, you would be highly tempted to believe that it can give you that extra energy you need to go the extra mile when you’re working out. But is that true or is it just a marketing trick?

It’s no secret that staying hydrated when you’re training in a class is very important. Would you believe that dehydration can actually reduce your overall performance by 30%? That’s another reason why so many sports drinks contain small levels of carbohydrates so that your performance remains optimal. Let’s take a look at the 3 types of sports drinks available-

–       Isotonic: Glucose is the prime ingredient in these drinks and is usually present in a concentration of 6-8%. That’s why it’s the preferred drink for most athletes as it helps to replace any lost fluids quickly.

–       Hypotonic: They help to replace any fluids which are lost through sweating. However, this is usually a favourite with performers and athletes who need a quick energy boost minus the carbs. Such drinks contain more electrolytes and fluids with very little carbohydrate content.

–       Hypertonic: This is usually consumed after a workout to top up glycogen reserves and is ideal for use by people like marathon race participants, who burn a high number of calories within a short period of time.

So how can something that helps you, be bad for you too? Let’s not forget that sports drinks also have high levels of sugar which isn’t good for your health. In fact, it has been observed that as the levels of sugar increase in the blood, the secretion of HGH which increases one’s ability to burn fat and to build more muscle, actually becomes inhibited. Keeping this point in mind, it means that if one continues to consume sports drinks and train, it may hamper performance over a long period of time.  Consuming sports drinks regularly could also lead to faster tooth decay because the high acid content eats away at the tooth enamel which is meant to protect the teeth. Moreover, sports drinks are quite high in calories too and if you are trying to lose weight as well, you should either reduce your overall calorie intake during the day or work out more.

On the other hand, a sports drink does serve its purpose if you want to optimise your performance during training. However, experts advise that it is best to consume such drinks when you want to perform at your very best, like if you are participating in a competition.  If you would still prefer to carry a sports drink with you to your next class, choose one that contains less sugar and which also contains magnesium.