01 Mar, 2013

Let’s Drink to Better Running

 Let’s Drink to Better Running

When you exercise, you produce heat, which your body controls through sweating, thus cooling the body, but you are then at risk of becoming dehydrated. Athletes can lose anything from 400ml to two litres of sweat in just one hour, especially if running intensely, or running in high heat or humidity. As little as 2% dehydration can hurt your athletic performance, so athletes are told to drink regularly and top up on fluids.


Now if you are running for less than 60 minutes, water will be enough to stay hydrated and save kilojoules, and sports drinks are not needed, because research shows they only offer benefits to people exercising for longer than one hour. Therefore, sports drinks are recommended for endurance athletes trying to reach peak performance, especially if training hard, sweating a lot, and wearing protective equipment and clothing, because they provide

?         Fluids to cool down your body and replace what you lost.

?         Carbohydrates for quick energy.

?         Sodium and potassium, the chief minerals lost in sweat.


Fluid needs vary from person to person, and according to the type of activity and the length of time that you are active, but as a general rule of thumb, runners should:

?         Drink one to one to two cups of sport drink four hours or less before exercise.

?         Keep fluids with you when you run and sip regularly to replace water lost through sweat, but let your thirst guide you.

?         Post-run, eat your meals and snacks and drink as you feel you need to, but especially drink up to 1.5 cup (375 ml) of fluid if you have not produced any urine, or only a small amount of bright yellow urine.

?         Water is always a good option post-run, but you can also drink milk or chocolate milk, 100% fruit juice or another sports drink.



1. Water: Make sure your sports drink is not carbonated, so it is easy to drink and doesn't make you feel full.

2. Sodium: The white powder on your clothes or skin is the salt you lose in sweat, and this loss can lead to muscle cramps, so sports drinks should contain at least 300 to 700mg of sodium per litre. Ultra-endurance athletes prone to cramping may require more.

3. Carbohydrate (sugar): Sugar keeps blood glucose from dropping and helps fuel active muscles and the brain, so 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of activity can improve endurance, power output and delay fatigue. To prevent stomach problems, make sure your drink has no more than 80 grams of carbohydrate per litre, as that is generally the limit of what your body can easily absorb.

4. Flavour: Drinks with flavour are easier to swallow, especially when you’re tired.



The typical energy drink contains more carbohydrate than the typical sports drink and gets most carbs from one or two sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup. Because of this, energy drinks are more likely than sports drinks to cause a stomach upset during exercise. Many energy drinks are also carbonated, further increasing the risk of GI distress. Furthermore, energy drinks usually contain caffeine, which can boost athletic performance, but most sports drinks do not contain it because your body becomes used to it with regular use and it loses its boosting effect.


Most importantly, it is important to try a sports drink in training first before using it in competition, as you don’t want to find out mid-race that something doesn’t work for you, or disagrees with your stomach!