What is the first thing you do after a grueling workout session or an intense Sunday social football? Chances are most of us will reach out for some sort of sports drink by the touchline. These days it is not uncommon to see parents giving their kids sports drinks after sports as well. We have all heard about the negative press surrounding sports drinks. Guardian published an article in 2012, questioning the alleged benefits of sports drinks (enhanced performance and recovery). Experts from the University of Oxford claimed that there is not enough evidence to support the claims from manufacturers and advertisers. The research was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal BMJ Open.
Most sports drinks are glorified sugar water that is made with chemically treated, refined sugars, they contain food dyes in abundance as well as artificial flavoring and other less-than-stellar ingredients such as brominated vegetable oils. We should refrain from drinking them unnecessarily. Sports drinks are not a necessity for everyone. There is a big difference between athletes who are working out every day for hours on end and those who do a 20-minute workout before breakfast. High-level athletes burn through a lot of liquid, electrolytes, and blood sugar during their training and competitions. It is true that staying hydrated is really important, especially if you are exercising and sweating a lot. Many experts agree that most will be fine simply drinking water and eating a well-balanced diet.
If you do want or need a sports drink after an intense workout session or sports, then homemade is the way to go as it is always better than artificially flavored sugar and salt water. High-sugar sports drinks can cause energy levels to plummet. One of nature’s best sports drink is coconut water. Coconut water is one of the simplest sports drink alternatives and can be used as is. Coconut water contains more potassium than sports drinks and more natural sources of sodium. The balance of electrolytes in coconut water mimics your blood’s electrolyte balance, and it is refreshing and delicious too. You can add some delicious fruit juice to flavor it if you’d like.
But what are electrolytes and why do we need it?
When we exercise we lose water and electrolyte. Electrolytes are like the power lines of our body—they conduct electrical signals that maintain fluid levels, acid-base balance, and muscle function. You lose water and electrolytes through sweat and plain water do not contain high levels of electrolytes. The body loses a lot of minerals during exercise. It can be helpful to add electrolytes and minerals to help rehydration after times of high-intensity exercise or lots of sweating.
We do not need to buy expensive or dubious sports drink the next time we need to replenish electrolytes and hydrate ourselves when we can make our own. Here are the recipes for three tasty electrolyte booster!