When to choose sports drinks over water

(Medical Xpress) -- With all the different sports drinks on the market, it can be hard to decide whether to reach for a sports drink or water to quench your thirst. In most cases, water will meet your hydration needs, according to Brooke Schantz, a Loyola University Health System registered dietitian and certified specialist in sports dietetics.

“Sports drinks shouldn’t take the place of regular water intake,” Schantz said. “Yes, they will help hydrate you, but the average healthy child, adolescent and adult doesn’t need the extra carbohydrates and calories that come with consuming these sugary beverages."

Schantz said there are certain cases when sports drinks are beneficial. Carbohydrates, our main energy source, can be found in sports drinks. Those who exercise for one hour or longer should consume between 30-60 grams of carbohydrates to help maintain blood sugar levels. Most contain about 4-8 percent of carbohydrates to help meet those needs.

“Consuming these beverages during exercise that lasts more than one hour can aid in hydration and help provide needed energy to hard-working muscles,” Schantz said.

The following tips will help to alleviate confusion about what to drink and when to drink it.

When to choose :

  • While sitting on the couch
  • During a 3-mile run or bike ride
  • While sitting at your desk studying or working
When to choose a sports drink:
  • While participating in a sporting event or endurance race that lasts longer than one hour
  • While exercising in extreme environments, such as in severe heat or humidity, the cold or at a high altitude
  • If you are an athlete who has missed or not consumed a high quality, preworkout meal to sustain your physical activity
  • If you are a wrestler or if you participate in another sport where you limit your energy intake prior to a weigh-in

Related Stories

Energy and sports drinks not for kids: study

date May 31, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- In a recent study published in Pediatrics, Dr. Holly Benjamin from the American Academy of Pediatrics, urged parents and pediatricians to keep sports drinks and energy drinks away from c ...

Recommended for you

Key to better sex ed: Focus on gender & power

date Apr 17, 2015

A new analysis by Population Council researcher Nicole Haberland provides powerful evidence that sexuality and HIV education programs addressing gender and power in intimate relationships are far more likely ...

Journal tackles aging policy issues raised by White House

date Apr 17, 2015

In anticipation of the forthcoming 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA), The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has produced a special issue of The Gerontologist that outlines a vision for older adults' econom ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.