Friday, June 17, 2011

Sports drinks

 Summer 2008 was very memorable. That was the first time I had ever travelled abroad. I had been on a programme for University students that placed us in summer jobs in the US. I was given a job at an amusement park as a photographer and I would spend most of my days in the sweltering heat photographing the guests and seeking to create memorable moments for them to take home.

We have a tropical climate here in Jamaica year round,so on paper, a little sun and heat had seemed like no big deal. Unfortunately, I was wrong, and within the first two weeks on the job, despite being warned by my co workers to keep myself hydrated, I started suffering from symptoms of dehydration and had to visit the employee clinic, that was when I was advised to get some sports drinks, by the medical personnel.

I knew that sports drinks, although marketed to the average person, only supply a high sugar load. I also knew that water was the best option for re hydration and was so averse to drinking sports drink I was ignorant to the instances that I would actually need them.In this instance  my body was being highly taxed from walking around an entire park(more than two miles) more than once all day in the sun each day and not  being replenished.

In essence sport drinks are the same as oral re hydration salts (ORS), only in a more fancy package. ORS are prescribed for individuals who are suffering from gastroenteritis and dehydration to replace electrolytes that have been lost. Does this sound familiar? 

 "Sports drinks are extremely popular. You see the commercials and you feel that you need them to perform better. Well, as with everything fitness these days- the facts are twisted. Unless you are involved in an endurance activity for over 60 minutes, you do not need an energy or a sports drink. What you need is water and only water. Endurance training for over 60 minutes, you'll need an energy or sports drink containing up to 8% carbs to replace fluid and dwindling glycogen stores. Drinking sports drinks when you don't need to will actually lead to weight gain. Sports drinks are calories and if you consume more than you need even those calories will turn into stored fat.

Even if you do need an energy or sports drink you will need to think about serving size, carb percentage and sodium. Sometimes one bottle contains 4 servings! And you could easily end up consuming 60 calories per serving, that's a lot of calories. Always check the carb percentage, it should not be above 8%. And finally, choose the drink with less sodium. One serving can easily contain 110mg which is 5% of RDI and if you drink 4 servings in one bottle, that adds up to 20% of RDI.

Energy and sports drink are just sugared water, even though they are great for endurance exercise, never drink these when you are simply thirsty on a hot day."  Personal Trainer Zandra

Suffice it to say I spent that summer drinking a lot of sports drinks. I recommend sports drinks in extreme cases only.