Lots of hot air in our sports drinks

Very interesting article about Sports Drinks!…

Whether you are playing peewee football or running a marathon, sports drinks promising enhanced performance and hydration are being pushed as the solution to all your exercise woes.

However, a British Medical Journal review has revealed the published evidence backing up sports industry claims of performance and recovery improvements is woeful or non-existent.

More than half of claims made on sports products websites did not list references, and 84 per cent of studies listed as evidence were judged to be at high risk of bias. None met the standards of “level 1 evidence”.

What does this mean for the average person wanting to hydrate properly when exercising?

Christchurch nutritionist Di McCauley says water is the best solution for anyone exercising for less than 90 minutes.

Alternative drinks, she says, are not necessary for casual athletes and should not be consumed regularly.

“Sports drinks have become commonplace in the fitness industry, being designed initially for use by endurance athletes,” she says. “Whilst marketed to those playing sport, most people do not exercise enough to burn the energy provided in just one sports drink.”

McCauley says sports drinks are high in carbohydrates (sugar), sodium and potassium and some have added caffeine and sugar. Some sports drinks have up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per 250ml, contributing to tooth decay, weight gain, diabetes, inability to concentrate, headaches, nervousness and difficulty sleeping.

“The problem with sports drinks relates to the health issues pertaining to over-consumption or unnecessary consumption.”

A drink containing sodium is only recommended when a person has exercised for more than two hours or is heavily sweating because excess sodium contributes to cardiovascular disease.

Of course, there are some sports drinks that are marketed as sugar-free but McCauley says the sweet taste of artificial sweeteners stimulate hunger and can lead to over-eating.

The average “vitamin water” contains less than 1 per cent of your daily vitamin and mineral requirements.

“For many, sports drinks provide nothing but empty calories or fuel with no nutritional benefit,” McCauley says. “For most people, consuming water before, during and after exercise provides adequate hydration.”

 – © Fairfax NZ News



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