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Sports Drinks: The Facts

With dozens of them lining the shelves, it's tough to know when to chug what sports drink and why. Here's a little cheat sheet to help you figure it all out.

Hydration Solutions For . . .

Light physical activity. Think yard work, walking, short runs, quick cardio sessions, low-impact sports (tennis, swimming, and downhill skiing).

Drink: Water or enhanced water

Why: Plain water will satisfy all your fluid quotas for light activities lasting 30 minutes to an hour. But water can be dull, which is why enhanced (flavored) water works to get you to drink the fluid you need. Sip with caution, however. Certain brands supply about 125 calories a bottle; close to the amount you just burned.

Choose: Enhanced water with no more than 10 calories per 8 ounces.

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Having rigorous fun. Long runs, bike rides, basketball, soccer, or other strenuous 60-minute-plus workouts.

Drink: Sports drinks

Why: More than sixty minutes of intense activity can deplete your energy, electrolyte, and fluid reserves.

Choose: Beverages with about 50 calories, 14 grams of carbohydrates, and about 110 milligrams of sodium per 8-ounce serving.

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Working on strength training.

Drink: A glass of chocolate milk

Why: Research shows that chocolate milk supplies just the right balance of carbs and protein your muscles need for quick recovery.

Choose: Any low-fat, premade version. Or make your own using fat-free milk and Nesquik powder, which has 25% less sugar than other flavored powders and syrups.

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MAKE YOUR OWN CUSTOM SPORTS DRINK
Save a few dollars by whipping up this delicious alternative.

1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄4 tsp salt
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄4 cup orange juice (not concentrate) or a combination of 100% fruit juices
2 tbsp lemon juice
31⁄2 cups cold water

To make: [1] Dissolve the sugar and salt in the water. [2] Add the juices and the remaining water; chill. Makes 4 servings.

Per 8-oz serving: 50 calories; 12 g carbohydrate; 110 mg sodium 

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