The best beverages for committed athletes
Water: Good old H2O can be fine for those exercising at a low intensity, or for a short duration (less than 45 minutes). The amount needed will depend on the individual, but in general your fluid needs can be estimated by weighing yourself before and after exercise – each kilogram lost will equate to 1 Litre of fluid.
Sports drinks: A colourful combination of carbohydrates, electrolytes and water, sports drinks are ideal for fuelling muscles and rehydrating. But a lot more thought has gone into the flavour of sports drinks than you may realise! Research has shown fluid intake increases with added flavour, in comparison to plain water, so the better the taste – the more you’ll drink.
Juice: Juice contains carbohydrates, an important energy source for our muscles and brains, so could be enjoyed alongside a recovery breakfast after a gruelling training session.
Milk: Although it may be the least appealing choice during a training session, milk’s composition makes for an ideal post-exercise drink as it is a compact source of good quality protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes. This was demonstrated in a recent study that showed full cream milk, soy milk and a dairy meal replacement were effective in replacing lost fluids after activity. Furthermore, the carbohydrate content in milk is ideal for maximising glycogen replacement.
Shakes or smoothies: So we know milk is useful, but following an intense training session, adding some protein powder and/or a piece of fruit to make a smoothie can be a simple and tasty way to boost the carbohydrate and protein content.
And what about those to steer clear of?
In general, carbonated soft drinks are not recommended during or following training sessions, as the bubbles can cause gastrointestinal upset.
Alcohol is a depressant, and thus slows activity in the central nervous system, affecting concentration and performance. Although alcohol isn’t commonly consumed before or during exercise, binges throughout the week or over the weekend can still adversely affect sports performance.
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