How to get the most out of your sports drink

July 11, 2013

Sports drinks are a significant part of workout culture today – it’s nearly impossible to go a day without seeing an ad for the best new way to hydrate and be the best athlete you can be. In reality, the ever-expanding industry brings good and bad. The advantage of having so many options is that you can continue to try different things until you find what’s best for you. Having a number of possibilities opens up the opportunity for customization to your preferences. On the other hand, the downside is that the constant influx of new products can be overwhelming. Conflicting expert opinions from every other company can lead to a great deal of confusion, especially for the less informed consumer.

Home fitness equipment like the TRUE M30 Home Treadmill features dual water bottle holders so that you never have to be far from your sports drink during a workout – or sports drinks, if you can’t decide between the two newest options. The only question is to which to choose, and the answer can be different for everyone. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your chosen thirst quencher.

Hydrate ahead of time
According to Active Network, one of the most common mistakes that people make with their hydration is drinking reactively rather than proactively. If you can feel that you are thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Instead of bringing a drink with you and having some whenever you get thirsty, consume the recommended portion before you even begin your workout – not too much, as ingesting too much liquid will only make you sick, but enough to fuel your exercise. This will prepare your body to handle a higher workload so you can perform better, as opposed to trying to push yourself through a tough run once you’re already dehydrated.

While a sports drink can help rehydrate your body post-workout, generally speaking, you don’t want to overdo it after your run is done with. A better tactic is to drink around half before you begin your workout then sip throughout it as needed. Of course, this is subject to how long and at what intensity you’re working, but the general rule still holds true – it’s better to pre-hydrate than re-hydrate, and you can keep yourself going with smaller amounts spread intermittently.

Hydrate intelligently
Another common mistake is the consumption of sports drinks when not exercising. As good as these drinks are to boost your hydration, energy levels and muscle performance during physically strenuous activity, they are often just empty calories if you’re going to be sitting at your office or home. They didn’t earn their name by accident – sports drinks are intended for sports, so use them as such.

Even if you’re using them at the right time, you may not be using the right drink in general. Big name brands are what most people reach for, but not every athlete can get by with the standard issue. Check the nutrition facts and research the amount of sodium and carbohydrates you’ll need to get through your usual workouts. Beyond that, if you’re going to try something new, consider your nutritional and hydration needs during your alternative workout. You shouldn’t be preparing for a long-distance run in the same manner as you would for sprint intervals on your home exercise bike.

Lastly, sports drinks should only be consumed in moderation. In fact, plain old water can ably serve as a substitute for most people. Only the most intense athletes really need a sports drink to fuel their workout. There’s no shame in trying a variety of things to see what fits best for you – for instance, new dissolvable tablets to supplement your water are forming a middle ground for those who don’t want the sugary calories in their diet. Altogether, it comes down to preference, so if you think sports drinks fit your needs, follow these tips to ensure you get the most out of every sip.