Don't sports drinks have too much sugar?

The sugars in sport drinks are there for a purpose but are unnecessary for non-exercisers. Sport drinks are used for achieving proper hydration and replenishment of compounds lost or used during exercise such as sugars and electrolytes. When we lose fluids, especially during exercise, we also lose electrolytes that are involved in muscle and nerve function and glycogen (glucose/sugar), the body’s fuel. Therefore, proper intake of all three is the general formula for maintaining proper hydration and performance for extended periods. Also see the below fluid guidelines:

General Fluid Requirements

• Fluids should be cold, palatable, selected based on the type and duration of the activity.

• Sports drinks should contain 4-8% carbohydrate. Drinks greater than 10% carbohydrate may slow stomach emptying, cause abdominal cramping and impair performance

• Drinks with a combination of glucose, glucose polymers and fructose may enhance water absorption

• Solutions containing primarily fructose can cause an upset stomach and should be avoided.  Be sure to check the food label for ingredients

Pre-exercise Guidelines

• Drink ~16 to 24oz of fluid 2-hours before activity

• On warm or humid days, drink an additional 8-16 oz 30-60min before activity.

• Water is adequate for activities less than 1hr as long as meals are consumed regularly

• For endurance events, training sessions longer than 60min, or multiple practices a day, choose a sport drink containing 4-8% percent carbohydrate

During Exercise

• Depending on your sport, consume 3-6oz of water or sports drink every 15min. This equates to approximately 32oz per hour

• For prolonged exercise greater than 60min, choose a sports drink with small amounts of electrolytes

Post-exercise Guidelines

• Immediately following activity, drink at least 16-20oz of fluid for every pound of weight lost to ensure proper rehydration

• A liquid shake with high carbohydrate content, minimal protein and fat can refuel energy stores and maximize recovery after demanding training bouts. Consume this as soon as possible after workouts or events:

• Drink an additional 16oz with your post workout meal. This meal should be consumed within two hours after activity

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