Hypertonic Sports Drink--This type of sports drink contains a higher concentration of salt and sugar than the human body. They contain about 10-15% carbs and
usually about 240-320 calories per 500ml of fluid. These drinks are designed to replenish carb levels after exercise or to top off the glycogen stores before an endurance run. Hypertonic drinks are good for marathons or ultra runs. Due to the high levels of carbs, hypertonic sports drinks are not well suited for use during exercise. They absorb slowly and may cause cramping or bloating. (Examples: Gatorade Endurance Formula, Powerade Energy)
Junk Water--There's a 4th category of "enhanced water" that I like to call "Junk Water." Now don't get me wrong, water is water. So, drinking what I call "junk water" isn't necessarily bad for you, but I'm more concerned that
the fancy packing may make you think you're getting something you're not. Vitamin Water for example. Vitamin Water, is a great tasting flavored water that's been enhanced with various vitamins. While these vitamins may have some health benefits they're not going to provide any help with hydration after 60 minutes. Smart Water is another in this category. The label even reads "enhanced with electrolytes." But, if you read the nutrition label, there is no sodium or potassium. The electrolytes added are to enhance flavor. So, like Vitamin Water, it's expensive water that will keep you hydrated (just like tap water) for runs less than 60 minutes. (Examples: Vitamin Water, Smart Water; Aquifina Essentials, SoBe LifeWater, Dasani Plus, etc.)
Can't Tolerate Any Sports Drink--Are you a runner with a touchy tummy that can't seem to tolerate any sports drink? You're not alone. Many runners have stomach
distress when using sports drinks. These runners often just drink water. That's fine, but if they're going to be running more than an hour, they greatly risk dehydration and a host of other complications if they don't somehow replace those lost electrolytes. They're performance will wain too as they deplete their glycogen stores. Ever hit "the wall" in a marathon? That's often due to running out of fuel--glycogen. So, what are these runners to do? Well, luckily there are products such as Nuun and GU Brew that are electrolyte replacement tabs. You pop a tab in your water and it dissolves much like an Alka Seltzer tab. The tabs come unflavored or flavored. They only contain the
electrolytes, so someone with a sensitive stomach should not be bothered by their use in regular water. They will, however, benefit from the hydration and cramp-reducing benefits of the electrolytes. These runners will need to experiment with other ways of getting in some source of more easily digestible carbs to replenish those glycogen stores on long runs. Some runners find eating solid foods like pretzels, fig bars, or graham crackers works well. Others find that the energy chews or gels work okay.
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