Weight Loss & Sports and Energy Drinks

Sports and Energy Drinks – Who Needs Them?

Sports drinks have become a staple of American athletics. Every major sports team including the NFL, Major League Baseball, and NASCAR, are sponsored by and use sports drinks. Given the large amount of calories and sugar in the drinks, the issue is who needs them and do they quench thirst and really rehydrate people?

Physical activity of any kind exposes everyone to the possibility of dehydration. Numerous factors determine how one sweats and therefore how much water replacement will be needed during and after exercise. Fluid replacement depends on environmental factors including temperature, sun exposure, humidity, and wind, as well as the intensity and duration of the activity. Not only is there a difference between different activities, but between individuals; some people simply sweat more than others and need greater fluid replacement.

Excessive dehydration is as a loss of a body weight of 2% or greater with physical activities. Thus a 160 lb person is dehydrated if he loses 3.2 lb. or more during an event. They use average sweat rates (the amount of fluid lost per hour during exercise) to predict the possibility of dehydration. Here are some sports performed outside and the average sweat rates: basketball- 1.4 liters/hour, soccer -1.5 liters/hour, tennis -1.7 liters/hour and running 0.75 liters/ hour (at a speed of 5 mph.).

How can you tell if you are dehydrated:

Measure body weight before and after exercise, any more than a 2 % loss is dehydration. If you divide the difference by the number of hours exercising you get your sweat rate. Make sure you account for water you are drinking during the exercise.

Here are guidelines for Hydration during Exercise.

  1. Eat balanced meals 24 hours before the exercise
  2. Two hours before exercise drink 14 oz of water
  3. During exercise drink water every 15-20 minute to replace water loss.
  4. Weigh yourself after exercise, if you lose weight; rehydrate yourself with 16 oz. of water for every lb. lost.
  5. Fluids should be cooler than outside temperature and flavored to enhance palatability.
  6. For exercises lasting more than one hour, than add a sports drinks with sugar and minerals

The need for carbohydrates and extra electrolytes -that is the addition of a sports drinks depends on specific exercise including the intensity, duration and weather conditions. In general The American College of Sports Medicine does not recommend the need for sports drinks for exercise that occurs inside a building or for less than 90 minutes outside.

Here are the ingredients in 8 oz. of a sports drinks:

* Gatorade: 50 calories, 14 grams sugar (from sucrose syrup and high-fructose corn syrup), 110 mg sodium,no caffeine, small amounts of potassium, no vitamins, no protein Gatorade is sold in bottles of 12, 20, 24 and 32 oz. The smallest bottle contains 75 calories and has 21 grams of sugar which is for children. The standard bottle is 20 oz. and has 2.5 portions or 150 calories and 35 grams of sugar.

* Propel Fitness Water: 10 calories, 2 grams sugar from sucrose syrup; also sweetened with Splenda, 35 mgsodium, no caffeine

* Accelerade: 80 calories, 15 grams of sugar, no high fructose syrup, 120 mg. of sodium, 4 grams of protein,no caffeine

* PowerAde: 64 calories, 17 grams sugar, 53 mg. of sugar, no caffeine. The 20 oz. bottle has 190 calories and42 grams of sugar

Energy drinks (8 ounces):

As a reference 8 oz. of coffee contains 2 calories and 95-100 mg. of caffeine, 12 oz. of regular soda contains 140 calories and 35-38 mg. of caffeine

* Red Bull: 110 calories, 27 grams sugar (from sucrose and glucose), 200 mg sodium, contains 76mgcaffeine. Other ingredients include various vitamins. Red Bull is also available in a sugar-free option with acesulfame K, aspartame, and inositol as sweeteners. This version contains 10 calories and 0 grams sugar.

* Rock Star: 140 calories, 31 grams sugar (from sucrose and glucose), 125 mg sodium, 80 mg caffeine. RockStart is available in a sugar-free option sweetened with acesulfame potassium and Splenda. This version has 10 calories and 0 grams sugar.

* Sobe, Energy Citrus Flavor:120 calories, 31 grams sugar (mainly from high-fructose corn syrup and orange juice concentrate), 15 mg sodium, contains caffeine.

Fortified waters (8 ounces):

* Propel Fitness Water. 10 calories, 2 grams sugar, 35 milligrams sodium. various vitamins.

* Glaceau Vitamin Water — Energy. 50 calories, 13 grams sugar (from crystalline fructose), 0 mg sodium, 50mg caffeine, various vitamins.

How sports drinks provide benefits to exercisers:

Sports drinks can help keep bodies functioning normally even under conditions of extreme physical exertion. They provide ingredients that cause rapid fluid absorption that has the effect of maintaining physical functions and preventing dehydration. The carbohydrates which include sucrose and fructose provide energy to working muscles. The sodium, glucose and flavors stimulate the body to want to drink even more fluids. Thirst isn’t a good measure of dehydration because by the time we’re thirsty we are already dehydrated. The small amount of sodium encourages people to drink beyond the point at which “mouth thirst” is satisfied.

Does everyone who is exercising need sports drinks?

Although these products provide many advantages to the sweating athlete, they also add calories and sugars. Do ordinary people, teens and children really need them? The answer lies in how much a person is sweating.

During exercise lasting less than one hour there’s little evidence of any difference in performance between exercisers who drink beverages containing carbohydrates and electrolytes and those who drink plain water

Why some individuals do not need sports drinks:

Many people have no idea about the nutrient content of these drinks. They report they consume these drinks for many reasons including improved immunity from diseases, “better health,” “energy” and because they replace “vital nutrients.” They have no idea of the calories, amount of sugar nor the fact that the “energy” from energy drinks is due to high levels of caffeine- hardly healthy and certainly not “natural.”

Drinking a single daily 150 calorie bottle of sports drinks adds 15 lb. and 2 inches to the waist over a year. Sports drinks have a little more than half of the calories of a regular soda.

Sports drinks are good for re-hydrating adults, children or teens that are playing sports outside in the heat that are more than 90 minutes, and involve high intensity and endurance. The words to remember are: intense, outside, duration and hot. Sports drinks have no place for most children and teens doing light exercise especially inside an air conditioned building, not sweating heavily, or doing no exercise all. In this situation, plain water is perfectly adequate and does not add extra calories and unneeded sugar. Drinking a single sports drink containing 150 calories and 42 grams of sugar, (the same as a can of soda) will easily “cancel” out 30 minutes of walking. For most typical workouts water is perfectly adequate