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3 Benefits to Hydrating with Sports Drinks Versus Water

Sports drinks sometimes get a bad rap for their sugar content and wasted calories, leaving water as the most popular beverage of choice during exercise. Despite the fructose criticism, sports drinks, in all actuality, are more efficient and hydrate better than water during workout. Many studies have proved the benefits of sports drinks, but there are specific tangible benefits that an athlete receives from consuming sports drinks during exercise. In this article, we’ll discuss three main benefits to hydrating with your favorite Gatorade or Powerade flavor instead of water.
1. Sodium

Sports drinks contain sodium whereas water does not. For a triathlete, sodium is what helps keep your muscles from cramping during hot race days. For any athlete, sodium helps the hydration absorb into the blood stream faster; therefore, allowing you to receive the benefits more quickly than water. By reaching and absorbing into your blood stream faster, your muscles will receive nutrition quicker, allowing you to perform stronger and longer.

Another benefit to sodium is that it also encourages a proper fluid balance, which is essential for lasting performance and avoiding that sloshy stomach every triathlete dreads. A suggested ratio of sodium intake for sports drinks is roughly 15 mg per ounce of liquid.

2. Carbohydrates and Electrolytes

Every triathlete knows that during race day and long training workouts, proper carbohydrate and electrolyte intake is essential. Who knew you could consume it in liquid form? Sports drinks contain a certain amount of caloric benefits to supplement your exercise and racing. The added carbohydrates help refuel your body from the energy it burns during workout. Carbohydrates in sports drinks are simple in form and easily digestible while your body is under stress (i.e. exercise). If you’re planning your race day nutrition strategy, be sure to take into consideration the calories you obtain through sports drinks.

Also, by choosing a sports drink with electrolytes furthers the refueling aspect even by nourishing your muscles with much needed nutrients. While water is the liquid of life, sports drinks with electrolytes supplements encourage increased muscular energy and sustainability.

3. Protein

Protein is key for rebuilding fatigued muscles. That’s why protein is so integral to post-training recovery. Protein helps repair those tiny microfibers in your muscles. So, why wouldn’t triathletes want to consume protein during race or workout? Many sports drinks contain protein these days in addition to sodium and carbohydrates. The added benefits of protein include increased endurance, less muscle fatigue and overall fluid absorption. Proteins aid in fluid retention, which in turn, help absorption faster and provides energy to your muscles quicker, providing more sustainable endurance performance.

Considering the above benefits of sports drinks, it’s hard to deny that facts that sports drinks hydrate better than water during exercise. Hydrating more efficiently and with the added nutrients, sports drinks should be the drink of choice for athletes. Personally, my favorite is the G-Original Lemon-Lime Gatorade.