Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sports Drinks: The Best?

I'm definitely taking my workouts up a notch. The last three days I've done an Olympic brick, weight-lifting, spin class, 3,000m pre-sunrise swim and I'll be running/strength-training later on. I'm looking into getting a better sports drink that will yield the maximum benefits: fuel my muscles, help my endurance, faster recovery, etc. I looked at a ton of options yesterday, and those giant tubs of powder mix aren't cheap considering how fast I'll use it, so I want to invest in a quality product. What's the best?

Sports Drinks -- What to Consider:

1. SUGARS: Different drinks use and combine different types of sugars. Get familiar with the GI Index if you're not already, then take a look at the types:

Fructose -- Low GI; preferred simple sugar to restore glycogen; slow absorption rate b/c metabolized by liver before going to muscles (gastrointestinal distress warning!!)
Sucrose (common table sugar) -- Mid-range GI; faster absorption than fructose; won't make you fat unless you over-do it :)
Maltodextrin -- Complete solubility (no gas-distress worries); instant energy; complex carb/polysaccharide
Dextrose -- High GI; simple sugar; stimulates sodium re-absorption (a good thing); no metabolizing in liver first (no gas worries)

Simple carb -- basic sugar, a monosaccharide or disaccharide
Complex carb -- polymer of simple sugars

2. ADD PROTEIN? Definitely key post-exercise, but what about during? I'm leaning toward a sports drinks that has some protein added with carbs -- a 4:1 C-P ratio. Research on C-P drinks (vs. just C drinks) shows (1) Increased endurance/enhance performance, (2) less muscle damage/soreness (3) faster recovery. However, C-Ps more often have higher calories, which could aid in higher endurance factor. Still, it seems clear that some protein is beneficial -- I'm convinced. Now what to buy??

Sports Drinks with Protein (for during exercise)

Accelerade or Accelerade Hydro
Champion Nutrition Revenge
Hammer Nutrition's Perpetuem or Sustained Energy

Also, as an aside, on lighter less-than-one-hour workouts, I'll just use an electrolyte tablet mixed into water. My favorites are Nuun and Zym. They're great to add to water just to get your electrolytes in! .

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