Athletic Advantage, Sports Drinks

How many times have you seen it? Athletes on the bench or the sideline or even in a lot of commercials these days, drinking Powerade or Gatorade or even one of those new energy drinks to get that extra little boost. But are these types of drinks as beneficial as their claims?

Young athletes are often told in order to re-hydrate they should drink sports drinks. But that's not always the case. While there are times when sports drinks can benefit an athlete, according to Michele Holcomb PA-c MPAS of United Regional Orthopedics and Sports Medicine,  in most circumstances athletes should just stick to water.

"If you're only going to participate in an activity for, say, 60 minutes or less, take a bottle of water, take several bottles of water no matter what the temperature is outside. If you're going to be participating in an activity for greater than an hour, then you need to evaluate 'what's the outside temperature?' , if you're going to be inside instead of outside, and your own health issues."

Once you reach the 2 hour or more threshold, Holcomb says that's when you probably want to start using small amounts of sports drink, but diluted with water. It will help replace the salts and minerals you've lost in your workout. "football players in two a days definitely at the end of the day need to be replacing some of their electrolytes. They're going to be participating for multiple hours in high temperature settings and they're going to lose a lot of fluids and minerals. If you're participating in the hotter n hell in august, that's a good time to be using a minimal use of sports drink, but again, water's your best thing."

Something else to keep in mind. Sports drinks often contain as much or more sugar than a standard soft drink. And as for the energy drink craze? Doctors will warn you  many contain high levels of caffeine. And can contribute to dehydration.

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