Archive for the tag - sports drinks

Are Sports Drinks Unhealthy?

Dear Davey,

I was wondering if sports drinks are actually unhealthy? They seem to have lots of sugar and I’m trying to lose weight.

From,
Ben

sports-drinks-shutterstock_29236237The answer is both yes and no.

Much like soda, sports drinks are loaded in added sugar. As such, they are high in calories. If you’re not engaged in rigorous exercise, then they’re not the healthiest choice. Water, perhaps with a splash of lemon for flavor, makes a lot more sense – especially if you’re counting calories.

But if you are actually engaged in rigorous exercise, like a game of soccer or a class of crossfit, sports drinks could be a smart choice. The answer is two-fold.

First things first, studies have found that consuming carbohydrates (which is what these sports drinks contain) during a workout means eating fewer calories after the workout and throughout the day. According to a study by Colorado State University, people who consumed 45 grams of carbohydrates during exercise consumed total fewer calories during the day compared to individuals who consumed no carbohydrates during a workout.

Second, carbohydrates are fuel for our body. And when you’re exercising, your body needs lots of fuel to power through a given workout. By consuming sports drinks or other beverages with simple carbohydrates, you may boost the intensity of your workout – and thus, burn even more calories and get a better overall workout.

Of course, you can also get those carbohydrates from other, more natural sources. Personally, I prefer eating a banana or some other high-sugar fruit. But sports drinks can certainly work!

The bottom line is that there can be a time and a place for sports drinks. And that time and place is when you’re exercising intensely… and not sitting on the couch watching Orange is the New Black.

Love,
Davey

How Much Water Should You Drink?

tumblr_m28bi2R0JD1qj4hmpo1_500As I’ve mentioned before, drinking enough water is absolutely essential. Aside from keeping your body functioning properly, water can boost your metabolism, clear up your skin and even help curb hunger. And that’s just for starters.

So just how much water should you drink each day? It depends. The answer is dependent on a number of factors including gender, activity level, environment, health conditions and whether or not you’re pregnant or nursing.

While most of us have heard that we need to drink eight glasses of water a day, the reality is a bit different. According to the Mayo Clinic, men should aim for about 13 cups of water per day (3 liters) and women should drink 9 cups (2.2 liters). It’s a bit more than what we’ve been taught in the past.

If you exercise, you’ll need to consume more liquid – and possibly a sports drink (or something with sodium) to replenish electrolytes. The amount that you’ll need depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise performed.

Moreover, the environment plays a big factor. If it’s hot or humid, it’s important to replace liquids lost from sweating. Higher altitudes will also cause increased urination; additional liquid consumption is advised.

And, of course, many illnesses and health conditions require additional liquids. As does pregnancy or nursing.

But if you’re looking for a simple tip to help get your daily water intake, pick yourself up two, 1-liter water bottles (or three, 1-liter bottles if you’re a guy). On the bottles, mark a water goal for each hour or two. As your day progresses, make sure you’ve kept up to the goal. You can keep the bottles in a refrigerator or even just nearby on your desk. By the end of the day, you’ll have consumed the full amount.

It’s a really easy tip to help build a healthy water habit!

Chocolate Milk After Workout: Ultimate Recovery Drink?

chocolate-milkYour post-workout recovery snack is arguably the most important meal of the day. So what do you consume? A protein shake? Water? A sports drink?

According to new research, you may want to start opting for fat-free chocolate milk.

In a study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine, researchers enlisted the help of eight male runners. Following a series of runs, the participants either consumed fat-free chocolate milk or a carbohydrate beverage (like Gatorade) with the same amount of calories.

During recovery, researchers found that runners who drank fat-free chocolate milk had better muscle protein repair when compared to the carbohydrate beverage. A second study found that muscle glycogen levels were also higher for the chocolate milk group. Since glycogen is used for fuel during exercise, replenishing these stores is crucial.

But why?

After exercise, it’s important to consume both protein and carbohydrates; many exercisers make the mistake of consuming one but not the other. Sports drinks usually only have carbs. Powdered protein mixes usually only have protein. Since chocolate milk has a mix of both protein and carbs, it can be a wise choice. Moreover, it’s also inexpensive – and tastier – when compared to many pre-mixed recovery drinks.

There are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’d only want to use fat-free chocolate milk because fat content can slow digestion – and your body needs the protein and carbohydrates quickly. Second, just because chocolate milk is good for workout recovery doesn’t make it a healthy choice during other times of the day. Because quick absorption is crucial after a workout, it’s the only time when ingesting simple carbohydrates – like those found in chocolate milk – is healthy.

Personally, I usually opt for a whey protein powder mixed with simple carbohydrates. It’s not as tasty, but it’s quick, easy and effective. Nonetheless, it’s great to know that chocolate milk is an inexpensive alternative to traditional recovery drinks.

What do you drink after a workout? Let me know in the comments below.

Americans Drinking Less Soda.

It’s true: I’m not a big fan of soda. In fact, as this video illustrates, I’d rather clean with Coca-Cola than ingest it.

The reality is sugary drinks are still a major source of calories. In fact, some studies even peg soda as the number one calorie source in the average American’s diet. That’s more calories from soda than alcohol, cake, bread, pizza, French fries or anything else. For the record, the National Cancer Institute ranks soda as the number 4 source.

But things are changing. Slowly.

Research shows that per capita soda consumption has dropped about 16% from its peak in 1998. In 2011, average soda consumption even dipped below 2 servings per day for the first time in a long time. In a different study, researchers found that sugar consumption decreased by about 25% in the last decade – mostly due to decreased soda consumption.

It seems that consumers and decision-makers are finally getting the message about soda. In fact, in recent years, sodas have been banned from many schools and a slew of local governments are removing carbonated beverages from public facilities. But despite the headwinds, carbonated soft drinks are a $75 billion industry in the United Sates.

A 16% decrease is a great start – but we’ve still got a long ways to go.

It begs the question: Instead of soda, what are consumers drinking? What’s filling our void? According to research (and illustrated in the above graph), Americans are drinking more bottled water and more non-carbonated soft drinks like Gatorade, Vitamin Water and others. Though water is always a great choice, many non-carbonated drinks are just as calorie-dense as soda. Gatorade is great to drink when running a marathon, but it’s not a healthy choice to consume while playing video games.

Is this research indicative of your own consumption habits? Are you drinking less soda? Let me know in the comments below.

Is Coconut Water Good For You?

I'd like to drink his coconuts...

Not ten minutes ago, I found a young coconut – popped a knife into it, and filled up a glass of fresh coconut water. Of course, you need not travel to Hawaii to get coconut water; it has become increasingly popular (many people swear by it) and coconut water can be found in many grocery stores including Whole Foods.

But all the hype begs the question: Is coconut water actually good for you?

First things first, coconut water isn’t coconut milk. Coconut water is found in unripe coconuts. As the coconut ripens, the milk becomes part of the coconut’s meat. Coconut milk is processed from this high-fat, high-calorie meat – and so it’s quite different in terms of both flavor and nutritional content.

Coconut milk is high in flavor, but also low in calories and sugars.

Many nutritionists consider coconut water to be nature’s sports drink – and a great alternative to beverages like Gatorade or Powerade. Like traditional sports drinks, coconut water contains water, carbohydrates and electrolytes. But unlike sports drinks, it contains none of the added artificial flavors, refined sugars or coloring. In other words, coconut water is a step up from sports drinks – though, keep in mind, sports drinks are really only needed during prolonged exercise.

Coconut water is also high in potassium. In fact, coconut water has more potassium than a banana! And, as such, many of the health benefits often associated with coconut water (i.e., muscle performance, heart health, kidney cleansing, etc.) are really just a result of the high potassium content. But potassium can be found in lots of fruits and veggies – and often with more fiber than coconut water.

Bottom line: There’s nothing magic about coconut water; it’s simply a delicious, low-calorie alternative that can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. It’s great to drink after a hard workout (and definitely a huge upgrade from sugar drinks like soda) – but, at the end of the day, nothing beats good, old-fashioned water.

What Are Electrolytes?

For prolonged and rigorous exercise, water alone won't always do the trick.

If you’ve ever picked up a sports drink, you’ve probably seen something on the labeling about its electrolyte content. But what are electrolytes and why are they important?

According to Discovery Health:

Electrolyte is a “medical/scientific” term for salts, specifically ions. The term electrolyte means that this ion is electrically-charged and moves to either a negative (cathode) or positive (anode) electrode.

What you really need to know is that electrolytes serve many roles in the body including the regulation of muscle function, nerve function, blood pH, blood pressure and hydration. Electrolytes are very important – and tightly regulated by our kidneys and various hormones.

When we sweat, we tend to lose electrolytes. If your balance of electrolytes is off, you may experience weakness, twitching, fatigue, confusion or a handful of other hindering issues. To maintain a good balance of electrolytes over the course of strenuous exercise (and thus, optimal performance levels), electrolytes should be replaced. This can easily be done by eating fruits, vegetables or by consuming a sports drink.

Of course, it takes intense exercise and subsequent dehydration to cause a real electrolyte imbalance; it’s probably not something you’ll need to worry about from a short jog or trip to the gym. And though sports drinks may be tasty, they’re generally unnecessary (and often unhealthy) except during and after intense exercise.

If you are partaking in prolonged exercise – like running a marathon, a long kayak trip, cross-country skiing, etc. – then water alone won’t necessarily cut it. Opt for high-electrolyte food or drink options to help maintain optimal performance.