Fluids and Exercise Post 2

What About Sports Drinks?
Plain water is fine for exercise lasting less than an hour. Fruit juice can be diluted twofold and makes a tasty drink for hydration. Too high a concentration of fructose, or fruit sugar, may cause diarrhea. For exercise that lasts 60 minutes, or on very hot days, sports drinks provide a performance edge that water cannot — because of their carbohydrate and electrolyte content. They are designed for use during exercise, not as a beverage with your meal. Many athletes benefit from drinking a sports drink during the last 15 minutes of exercise.

Today’s new sports drinks are well researched and can make a difference in your performance. They are designed to replace what is lost in sweat — fluid, energy, sodium and potassium. The carbohydrate is at a 5 to 10 percent concentration, which provides quicker absorption from the stomach than plain water. The form of sugar, usually a glucose polymer, is rapidly converted to energy.

Sports drinks also have electrolytes — sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. These assist in the rapid absorption of the fluid, and replenish the loss of sweat. Pick sports drinks that taste good to you, and use them when really warranted.

Drinks high in sugar, like soft drinks and juice, can slow fluid absorption and increase the risk of cramping. Enjoy these after the event is over.

What About Beer?
A cool beer sounds great after a workout, but from what you have learned about fluids, beer is not a recovery drink. Beer is a poor carbohydrate source (a poor recovery fluid); provides no vitamins, minerals or electrolytes; has a dehydrating effect (because of the alcohol); and is a depressant that may take away the endorphin high you just got from exercise.

If you really want to have a beer, drink two to three large glasses of water to quench your thirst. Eat carbohydrates to fill you stomach and refuel your muscles. Then relax with a beer.

Children’s Sports
Children quickly lose fluids during activities and have difficulty dissipating excess body heat. Children who are involved in sports may have limited access to fluids at practice and during sporting events. Be sure your child’s coach makes provisions for fluids at practice and games. You can be a proactive parent and arrange for the availability of water, diluted juices and sports drinks. When your child gets home, monitor his or her drinking.

Remember, thirst is an unreliable means for judging how much to drink before, during and after exercise. Keep these practical fluid replacement guidelines in mind not only for competitive sports, but also recreational activities.