Why All Sport is Better: Formulated for You
Sorting out the Facts on Sports Drinks By Kristine Clark, Ph.D., R.D
When it comes to exercise, the adage, drink before you are thirsty is one worth paying attention to. But the interesting dilemma is that few people follow that advice. Instead, most exercisers are cued in to drinking only after they feel thirsty, a response that is triggered once the body has already experienced a slight degree of dehydration.
Water, sports drinks, juice, and carbonated soft drinks reign as the top four liquids exercisers claim to drink as part of their hydration or rehydration strategy. Most say they select their beverages based on three criteria: taste, convenience, and caloric value. Rarely do I hear someone say they’ve chosen a fluid because it improves their performance or makes them feel considerably better before, during or after exercise.
The question to raise in light of the array of fluid choices is whether or not we should be directing clients toward beverages that actually may be better for them. The criteria exercisers use to select a fluid makes sense, but the ability to differentiate these beverages beyond taste, convenience, and energy value exists.
All Sport Body Quencher’s Value:
Does All Sport really offer any benefit beyond providing a taste that’s different from water? Interestingly many sports nutrition papers still claim that sports drinks are gimmicky and not needed by exercisers. In fact, I remember hearing at very early sports nutrition conferences that sports drinks like All Sport Body Quencher were not additionally beneficial and that water was still the absolute best hydration fluid. But let me present some reasonable arguments from a clinical standpoint.
Getting exercisers to drink a lot of fluid is key to hydration (before exercise- adequate fluid) and rehydration (during and after exercise – replacing lost body water from sweat and respiration). All Sport offers several features missing in water. First, they contain various sugars, or carbohydrates. Second, it contains minerals (electrolytes) that to some degree are lost in sweat during exercise. Finally, sports drinks like All Sport are flavored and colored to meet the diverse demands of consumers, as well as stimulate basic interest in drinking them. In the earlier years of sports drink evolution, sodium was added in larger amounts than it is today. The logic was that it was a mineral lost in sweat but would also stimulate thirst, causing athletes to drink more.
Today what is known is that both the carbohydrate and sodium content of sports drinks influence absorption of the water portion of the beverage. Since the goal of drinking is to get water to the cells quickly, hydrating them completely before activity and then throughout and after exercise, rate of absorption of the drink is an issue. Water is absorbed quickly, with no ingredients in it to decrease adsorption, but sports drinks also leave the small intestine quickly, delivering water and energy to the cell.
The question I consistently raise is, "who needs the extra energy?" After running my daily 3-5 miles, the last thing I want to do is hydrate myself with calories when water is available. And, truthfully, most people exercising at that level probably don’t need anything but water. But, if the scenario is one in which energy is needed due to the duration of activity, a sports drink can be perfect.
As a clinical nutritionist I’ve learned that sports drinks, like All Sport, fit in for other very practical reasons. For example, men and women who plan to go to the gym right after work may feel hungry on the way or even one or two hours before leaving work. Rather than succumbing to a snack that may leave them feeling too full for exercise or eating the traditional high calorie 3 p.m. "wake-me-up" snack, a sports drink at that time will boost energy and hydrate without interfering with the 5 p.m. exercise plans. The good news is that the calories in sports drinks are small enough at 70 per 8 ounce serving that it may be just the amount to stave off hunger and motivate a workout. In addition, sports drinks can be kept in a car ready to gulp en route to the gym as a quick energy source.
Another practical example using All Sport is to provide fluid and calories for those who simply don’t want solid calories before physical activity. Whether it’s a competitive athlete or a recreational exerciser, 30-60 grams of carbohydrate an hour before activity reinforces energy levels. Competitive athletes who get butterflies in their stomachs prior to an event tend not to want to eat, yet need the pre-exercise carbohydrate a sports drink can provide.
Finally, carbohydrates are needed after exercise to replace glycogen used during physical activity. The goal is to begin eating or drinking carbohydrate sources within the first two hours post-exercise to maximize glycogen formation and increasing the opportunity for optimal training the next day. Since high intensity workouts have a tendency to decrease appetite, eating solid foods after exercise may be difficult. Athletes able to drink fluids can easily get an initial amount of needed carbohydrates through sports drinks like All Sport Body Quencher.
The bottom line, encourage fluids that will be drunk, plentifully and frequently. Without adequate fluid replacement, fatigue sets in prematurely. As exercise continues without appropriate fluid replacement, more serious complications develop including dizziness, cramping, nausea, headache, and decreased sweat losses impairing thermoregulation which can lead to heat stroke. We need to encourage older clients and children to drink just as much as teens and middle-aged adults. Thirst mechanisms may be impaired in seniors and children may simply not pay attention to fluid intake. In addition, children have lower heat tolerance and sweat losses than adults, so do not thermo-regulate as well.