If you watch TV, you have probably seen the ads for the suped-up water or that famous Florida swamp drink, featuring uber-healthy and attractive athletes zipping around the track, the football field and even the ski slopes. And... have you thought to yourself, "Wow! I wonder what type of athlete I could be if I was properly fueled?" Thankfully, as I was renewing my Personal Trainer certification recently, I had the opportunity to take a course in Sports Performance and got the answer to this very question.
First of all, fueling your body the right way is REALLY important! That doesn't necessarily mean that you should be intaking sports and performance drinks on a daily basis to do that. It means eating the proper nutrients to make sure your body can convert those and your fat stores (not your muscle! see this post on maintaining a high metabolism for more information on that) for energy. It also means eating enough (yes - I want you to eat calories!!) to fuel your body through your daily functions and through your workouts, practices and games. That's for another day, but make sure you are eating right (lean proteins, whole grains, veggies and fruits and good fats) before you even think about adding a supplemental sports drink.
Here are some simple hydration rules for liquid fuel before and during workouts:
ALWAYS drink 17-20 oz of water 2 to 3 hours prior to exercise. This is an incredibly important step in preventing dehydration and allowing for optimum performance throughout your workout.
If your workout lasts less than 60 minutes, generally, you need to hydrate with ONLY water. H20 is enough unless you are sweating profusely or you are working out in the Mohave desert or somewhere with super high temperatures.
If your workout is 60 to 90 minutes, you will need to hydrate with water and electrolytes. This is not the same as many sports drinks. To accomplish this, consider one of the enhanced waters, such as smartwater by Glaceau.
When your workout is more than 90 minutes (think 1/2 marathon, marathon, etc.), you will want to refuel with water, electrolytes and a carbohydrate source. This is when you would need the sports drink!
Of course, we are not fans of the sugary, syrup-like sports drinks to refuel that 90+ minute workout. Since the sugar is not making a large impact on your performance, try making your own sports drink and use natural fruit to sweeten and tweak the taste. Experiment with all types of your favorite fruits for a yummy, clean and healthy sports drink, starting with this base:
- 12oz of Water
- 3 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
- Pinch of Finely Ground Sea Salt
- Add in your flavoring (smashed fruit, etc...)
What is your favorite flavoring to the do-it-yourself sports drink?