What to look for in your sports drink

Hey guys I hope you are all enjoying the longer days. I know I am already starting to think of all the mountain biking and trail running I want to do when the snow melts! Several spring and summer activities keep us in the heat long enough to require rehydration of our bodies. So when do you make the switch from good old H2O to a sports drink? Are you choosing the right sports drink for your activity?

I am a huge advocate of water on any activity surrounding the hour to hour and a half mark. There is no better way to keep yourself hydrated while keeping your body temperature under control outdoors. Water does not have hidden ingredients to hinder your health. There are no unneeded calories or sugar while quenching your thirst under the sun. I can go on forever about the benefits of water, but sports drinks have an important role in keeping your energy up while taking those long tours in the Park City Mountains.

Once your activity passes the 90 minute mark your glycogen levels are nearly diminished and fatigue is guaranteed to set in. In order to sustain energy you need to take in carbohydrates for your body to continue to fuel itself properly. Sports drinks are a great source of energy because of electrolyte replenishment and ease of digestion during exercise. Be aware though that some sources of energy are harder to digest than others. The best choice for your tummy and energy needs is to find a drink that has a mix of different types of carbohydrates such as glucose mixed with fructose. Glucose is quickly converted to fuel and therefore easy on the stomach. Fructose takes a bit longer to digest however, it increases palatability of the drink so your taste buds are satisfied. High fructose corn syrup is often the first ingredient in sports drinks which can wreak havoc on your gut while actively exercising.

Another factor in choosing a sports drink during exercise is the % of carbohydrates per serving. A safe guideline is to stay between 6% and 8% or 14-20g of carbs per serving. This guideline was put in place to create optimal gastric emptying and fluid absorption. That means your belly is less likely to cramp up on you while you are getting that extra boost of energy you need.

So be sure to check the labels before purchasing your optimal sports beverage. Also practice with certain combinations of carbohydrates during training. What works for some does not always work for others.