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Category: Sports Nutrition
Sports Nutrition and Sports Drinks – Know the Facts
It goes without saying that to achieve optimum performance in your training and workouts, you need to be keeping your body healthy in other ways, specifically what you put into it in the form of food, drink and supplements. But what does that actually mean? Are sports drinks actually healthy or should you stick to water? Should you take sports supplements, and if so which ones? We’re here to answer just these questions.
When doing any kind of exercise, it is highly important to stay hydrated. But is water enough? Well, humans have been using water as their way to keep hydrated since forever. But that doesn’t mean sports drinks can’t be useful.
Of course, by this we mean healthy sports drinks – there are a lot of drinks masquerading as sports drinks that are just conduits for sugar and caffeine. Proper sports drinks are specifically designed to provide the correct balance of carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluid for hydration. If you use these properly, they can enhance your performance. However, they are designed for intensive exercise lasting 90 minutes or more. For more moderate workouts, water is sufficient. Drinking sports drinks more than you need to is a bad idea, as they all contain a fair amount of sugar.
How To Properly Use Sports Drinks
Healthy sports drinks can be drunk before, during and after exercise. Before exercise, they can fine tune carbohydrate intake, and the sodium in them can help prevent urine losses. During a workout, sports drinks provide optimum fluid and fuel delivery, helping you to work out for longer and more effectively. After a workout, sports drinks aid recovery of fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, and replenish glycogen stores. Also note that if using a powdered sports drink, you need to follow the instructions properly to get the correct balance. In addition, make sure you eat something after your workout that provides adequate carbohydrates, protein and vitamins to aid recovery.
The most common image of an athlete who uses a sports supplement is a body builder taking protein supplements, but actually many athletes use them. But should you? Supplements are not nearly as important as eating healthily, and choosing the right workout. But they can help, especially for hard training athletes. However, it’s important to be careful when choosing supplements, as many are not properly tested.
Having advised caution, here is some advice on what type of supplements to take for which sports:
- Sprinting and weightlifting reps: Creatine
Creatine can help with repeated and short bouts of intense exercise. Your body makes it naturally, but uses it up when doing reps, so a little extra at those times can be good.
- Burning muscles: Beta-alanine
Beta-alanine helps curb that burning sensation that comes from lactic acid during workouts. Basically, it could help you not give up. Studies are not in total agreement about whether it works or not, but it could be worth a try.
- Bulking up: Amino acids, whey protein, and glutamate
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Taking them as a sports supplement may help curb muscle breakdown. But if you really want to build muscle, whey protein is your go-to as it promotes muscle growth after a workout. However, it is possible to use high-protein foods for the same purpose. According to bodybuilder Clayton South, your daily multivitamin and glutamate is more important than whey protein. This is because when subject to intense training, the body cannot make enough of its own glutamate.
Neither sports drinks nor sports supplements are necessary for moderate level workouts. Sports drinks can be useful for long, intense workouts, and supplements can help meet specific goals. Make sure to consult your doctor before deciding on which supplements you take, so that you avoid ones you may be allergic to and that will not be beneficial to your body. The most important sports nutrition advice is to eat properly: but sports drinks and supplements can give you a real edge.
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