Myth buster: Sports drinks vs. water
Published 4:59 p.m., Tuesday, October 16, 2012 | SFGate
Myth: Sports drinks keep you better hydrated than water during a workout.
Fact: Those giant sports drink coolers on the sidelines of professional sporting events send fans a strong message – your favorite athletes drink this stuff, and you should, too. But according to new research, sports drinks aren’t proved to deliver all they promise, and water is all that most people need to stay hydrated.
Americans buy $1.5 billion worth of sports drinks annually, but a series of studies in the British Medical Journal say there isn’t enough evidence to support so-called scientific claims by sports drink makers that their products optimize athletic performance and recovery. For more information: bit.ly/T9tYeu.
In one study the journal examined 104 sports drinks and other products that claim to enhance athletic performance. There were 431 claims associated with these products, and researchers found that slightly more than half of them were not backed up. Most of the study references the ads did provide were either so vague that the journal’s researchers couldn’t analyze them, or they referred to studies that the researchers said had a high risk of bias. The researchers reported that only three of the studies referenced were of “high quality and low risk of bias.”
Then there’s the question of electrolytes – minerals like calcium, potassium and sodium that decrease slightly as your body sweats them out during exercise. Water doesn’t contain electrolytes; sports drinks do. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say that people who work out vigorously for an hour or more lose enough electrolytes to warrant replacing them with sports drinks. Researchers add, however, that you can also replace electrolytes with a balanced diet, including mineral-rich fruits and vegetables.
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