There are three different types of sports drinks on the market, each of which has varying levels of liquid, carbohydrates and electrolytes.
Isotonic drinks contain 6% - 8% of carbohydrates and added electrolytes and have a similar make up of salt and sugar to that found in the human body. The body absorbs the liquid at the same rate it would absorb water. These drinks not only slake your thirst but also provide added energy. Most athletes choose isotonic drinks, especially those involved in endurance sports and team sports.
Hypotonic drinks have fluids, electrolytes and a much lower level of carbs than isotonic drinks. These drinks are ideal for people who need to replace fluid lost through sweating and don’t need the added carbs for an energy boost. The fluid is absorbed into the body at a faster rate than water. Hypotonic drinks are ideal for recreational sports or sports which do not expend much energy.
Hypertonic sports drinks have a high level of carbohydrate. These drinks are designed to supply extra energy rather than quench your thirst. The body absorbs these more slowly than water and it is usually recommended that you consume one 30 to 60 minutes before beginning your choice of exercise and drink another one as soon as you have completed your programme. However, if you are running a marathon, then you can consume hypertonic drinks during it but make sure you also have isotonic drinks to prevent dehydration. These drinks are ideal for those athletes who need an extra boost in their performance.
ARE SPORTS DRINKS GOOD FOR YOU?
Most sports drinks are loaded with sugar, caffeine and additives, such as colourants and flavour enhancers. Many nutritionists feel that the ideal drink to consume while exercising is a combination of water, fruit juice with added salt. You can make your own natural, isotonic, hypotonic and hypertonic drinks without all the additives and sugar. Nutritionists also recommend that if you feel your energy levels dropping, eat a banana or have a couple of dried apricots. Virgin Active states that unless you are exercising strenuously for over two hours you do not need to consume sports drinks, the only benefit may be added kilos over a few months, due to the high sugar content! Whether manufactured sports drinks are for you or not, don’t forget to wear your reflective safety vest or reflective belt while exercising where there are other road users.