The Best Way To Refuel After Practice

Gatorade may have been the original, but the market is now flooded with competing energy drinks promising to make your workout last longer, your muscles stronger, and replenish you faster.

Sports drinks and vitamin waters fill the shelves of every grocery store, encouraging fitness enthusiasts and athletes to replenish their lost nutrients after a workout.

But before you reach for another one of these drinks to hand out after soccer practice, how much do you really know about the benefits of drinking sports drinks instead of water?

The Skinny On Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are made up of a mixture of electrolytes (usually sodium, chloride, and potassium), carbohydrates (sugars), and calories.

Through exercise and sweat, the body loses electrolytes. Normal electrolyte loss can be replaced by drinking plenty of water. However, when exercising vigorously and losing a large amount of sweat, the body is susceptible to losing too many electrolytes that can’t be replaced by drinking water alone.

That’s where sports drinks come into play. Sports drinks are designed to help replenish those electrolytes through sugar – also giving your body a boost of energy to help power through the workout.

When Is Water The Way To Go

Water AdHydrating properly is essential before, during, and after exercise. But for most of us, sports drinks aren’t necessary. During a normal workout, the body typically doesn’t lose a large enough number of electrolytes to require the assistance of sports drinks to replenish them.

In fact, for the average workout under 60 minutes, water will do the job.

Sports drinks actually contain almost half the amount of sugar and calories found in soda or fruit juice. Drinking multiple sports drinks can quickly increase the body’s sugar intake.

After moderate exercise (less than an hour) avoid consuming the extra calories of a sports drink and grab some water to refuel.

When To Drink A Sports Drink

Sports DrinksThe longer you exercise and the more heavily you sweat, the greater the need for a sports drink to help replace lost micronutrients.

Hydrating becomes more prevalent during a strenuous workout in the heat. When your body begins to feel even slightly dehydrated, any effort can feel tougher.

If you have white streaks on your clothes after a workout you’ve lost a lot of salt through your sweat. Your body will be low on sodium. Drinking a sports drink will help replace the lost sodium and electrolytes.

For those days when your body has endured a more rigorous workout, or it’s hot and humid outside, then sports drinks will provide the extra calories and electrolytes needed.

Got Milk?

Chocolate MilkA recent study, released by Physiologist Joel Stager, the director of the Human Performance laboratory at Indiana University, has discovered one more potential workout recovery drink: chocolate milk.

Stager sees chocolate milk as the perfect workout recovery drink. When compared to regular milk, water or other sports drinks, chocolate milk has almost twice the carbohydrates and proteins. It quickly replaces fluids lost from sweat due to its high water content plus it adds calcium, sodium, and sugar to boost energy.

Milk has also been proven to disperse more slowly from the stomach, absorbing the nutrients in to the body at a much slower rate.

Similar to sports drinks, a chocolate milk recovery drink becomes important after participating in intense activity. If your exercise hasn’t been strenuous you probably won’t want to consume the calories found in a cup of chocolate milk.

Unless you’re enduring prolonged exercise, water remains the number one choice for recovery.

After reading the facts, what will you be giving out after your next practice? Let us know in the comments below!

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Kris Baker

Kris Baker is the President of Demosphere and has been serving the Youth Sports Community since 2006.