How to choose your exercise drink

HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR EXERCISE DRINK

Exercise drink, energy drink or even an isotonic drink… there are many terms used to describe the drinks used for sports. Differences, uses, compositions, etc. The drinks will hold no secrets for you.

1. WHAT IS AN EXERCISE DRINK FOR?

Drinking water is the best way to rehydrate. However, depending on the type and intensity of the exercise as well as the conditions…You are not losing only water. You are perspiring, which results in a loss of minerals (sodium in particular). In addition to the level of hydration, physical activity also consumes large quantities of energy. Exercise drinks provide a continuous supply of carbohydrates, thereby delaying the depletion of energy reserves and the onset of fatigue as a result. The extent to which one's drinks will be of benefit will depend on their composition and the desired effect (hydration/energy intake).

2. COMPOSITION OF EXERCISE DRINKS

- Water: for hydration.

- Carbs: carbohydrate mix of glucose and fructose.

- Vitamin B1, B2, B6: facilitate the assimilation of carbs by the body.

- Sodium: it improves the absorption of water, awakens the feeling of thirst, helps to retain ingested liquids better and compensates for the losses due to perspiration.

- Potassium: it is highly recommended for very long physical efforts in hot conditions

- Antioxidants: they help the body defend itself against the toxins produced by our cells during exercise.

3. WHAT DRINK FOR WHAT KIND OF EXERCICE ?

Like dehydration, a decrease in glycaemia and a drop in glycogen reserves will be the most significant factors affecting muscle strength. Sportsmen and women must learn to compensate for losses occurring during exercise if they want to maintain the same levels of performance.

PHYSICAL EFFORTS < 1 HOUR

For physical exercise lasting less than one hour, all you need is water. Drinks must be taken before exercise, during exercise if possible and after exercise. This is to ensure high performance and good recovery.

PHYSICAL EFFORTS BETWEEN 1 AND 3 HOURS

For physical efforts exceeding one hour, drink one high-carb energy drink at regular intervals: 150 to 300ml mouthfuls every 10 to 15 minutes. This drink must be rich in carbohydrates in order to provide the body with energy. It must also contain sodium to compensate for losses incurred through perspiration and vitamins B1, B2 and B6 to facilitate the absorption of carbohydrates: isotonic drinks contain all these ingredients and are therefore ideally suited to long exercise sessions.

PHYSICAL EFFORTS > 3 HOURS

For very long or repeated efforts, it may be necessary to add some potassium as losses of this mineral may occur during long exercise sessions in hot conditions. It is also beneficial to add antioxidants (vitamins C and E and zinc). The latter help the body defend itself against the toxins produced by our cells during exercise.

4. HOW MUCH DRINK FOR WHICH TYPE OF EXERCICE ?

The addition of carbohydrates to a rehydration drink provides the active muscles with a rapidly usable source of energy. This strategy delays the onset of fatigue by preserving glycogen reserves in the liver and muscles. However, if the drink is too concentrated (hypertonic) it will slow down the speed of digestion and thereby reduce the level of rehydration, possibly resulting in stomach cramps and heart burn. Conversely, a drink that is too diluted (hypotonic) will stimulate rehydration at the expense of absorbing nutrients!

lt is advisable therefore to adopt a strategy that is best suited to enhance the preservation of glycogen reserves while preventing dehydration. It is therefore strongly advisable to follow the quantities recommended by the manufacturers that are generally provided with isotonic drinks. However, the ideal composition of an energy drink depends on the environmental conditions and the conditions in which you are exercising. When exercising in very warm conditions, hydration is of the utmost importance for health and safety. We advise that you have a more diluted drink available (hypotonic).

Marie Fauchille

Dietician-Nutritionist, multisport/adventure racing and rowing enthusiast"

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