Sports drinks have been extremely popular worldwide for many years. Surely you have seen ad campaigns of various companies that produce energy and sports drinks. Sports drinks are everywhere. We see a plethora of elite athletes and teams using them before, during, and after training and competition. Most of these sports drinks are isotonic, but we will also make sure to talk about two types of sports drinks, hypotonic and hypertonic drinks.
But what are the benefits of these drinks? Is there any alternative to the sports drinks we see in the market? When should someone drink such beverages? Let us first define what sports drinks really are.
The Definition Of Sports Drinks
Sports drinks, also known as isotonic drinks, are basically water containing a range of electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium) and simple sources of carbohydrates (such as sugar). The purpose of their consumption is to replenish (or supplement) lost fluids (water), to retain more fluids (sodium helps with water retention) during exercise, to avoid muscle cramps (electrolytes), and of course to give an energy boost with glycogen (simple carbohydrates).
Although we know them as isotonic drinks, it is worth mentioning two other versions of sports drinks: hypotonic and hypertonic drinks. Below we will analyze each one separately and we will present you some recipes to help make your own sports drink at home with very simple and affordable ingredients!
Hypotonic Sports Drinks
Hypotonic drinks can replenish electrolytes and glycogen in minimal amounts. Its content in water, electrolytes, and simple carbohydrates are relatively small in comparison to the content of our blood.
The dosage is so small that it isn’t able to lead us to a complete replenishment. Such drinks are usually consumed during games and training sessions as a fast re-hydration tool, however, most of the time they are not the ideal solution.
Isotonic Sports Drinks
In contrast, isotonic drinks contain a similar dose of water, electrolytes, and carbohydrates to our blood. Isotonic drinks are the most common of all versions as they aim not only to hydrate the body but also to replenish the lost carbohydrates and electrolytes.
Their purpose basically is to restore the levels of the minerals we mentioned. Isotonic drinks use simple carbohydrates such as sugar and honey for fast absorption and loading of our glycogen stores. Note, however, that absorption will take a little longer compared to hypotonic drinks. Isotonic drinks are good for before, during, and after a practice or match. They can definitely be involved in your half-time strategy.
Hypertonic Sports Drinks
Hypertonic drinks, as you will surely understand, have the highest content of water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes from the other two drink types and of course higher than that of our blood.
They are not so common and the reason is that they are commonly used as a recovery drink to sort of overload the body with the nutrients and minerals mentioned. So you should generally prefer them after intense activities and of course, as a supplement to a quality meal.
The consumption of such drinks should be limited to days/times of intense exercise and should be avoided when not necessary.
Recipes For Each Sports Drink
Most (if not all) sports drinks on the market contain a range of preservatives and additives as well as poor quality or large quantities of ingredients (sugar). So here’s how you can create your own sports drink and control everything that’s getting inside of it.
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