Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are beverages that are advertised to improve athletic performance. The most common way they improve performance is by the replacement of electrolytes lost through sweat. Electrolytes lost through sweat include:

  • Sodium

  • Potassium.

  • Chloride.

Sports drinks may also include energy sources. This may include carbohydrates. Carbohydrates help reduce fatigue. Most sports drinks have a pleasant taste, so athletes will want to drink them while playing and not become dehydrated.

WHY ATHLETES USE THEM

Athletes drink sports drinks to:

  • Replace electrolytes.

  • Consume energy-containing nutrients.

  • Replace fluids lost during exercise.

Sports drinks are believed to be better than water because they do more than just replace fluids.

ADVERSE EFFECTS

  • Nausea.

  • Transient increase in blood sugar levels when not exercising (especially persons with diabetes or Addison's disease).

  • Theoretically, dehydration may occur if sugar concentration is too high.

PHARMACOLOGY

Physical activity causes the body to use its energy stores and lose electrolytes and fluid through sweating.

Sports drinks replace what the body loses during exercise. Studies have shown that sports drinks have the ability to improve performance, and should be consumed prior to, during, and after an athletic event. It is important to note that sports drinks are intended to hydrate. The risk of adverse effects increases if consumed when no exercise is present. If an individual is already dehydrated the sugar in a sports drink may actually increase dehydration.

PREVENTION

  • Ensure adequate hydration before competition and exercise.

  • Choose a drink you like because it will be easier to drink.

  • Train using the drink to see if it is effective and produces no side effects.

  • For ultra-endurance exercise and competition, consider also supplementing salt intake.