The athletes of Louisiana State University were introduced to “Bengal Punch” back in 1958. Now sports drinks have been available to athletes for the past 50 years. Gatorade is the most recognizable sports drink on the market. This was introduced to the athletes at the University of Florida, and has revolutionized how athletes energize and re-hydrate during and after sporting events.
Since Gatorade’s introduction, many similar sports drinks have been developed and introduced to athletes, as well as to general consumers. PowerAde and Glaceau Vitamin Water are particularly gaining in popularity.
Electrolytes, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals are the main ingredients in sports drinks that are thought to enhance athletic performance. Athletes gain many benefits from sports drinks while they are physically active.
Replenishment of Electrolytes
Electrolytes are salts that are naturally part of body fluids. When an athlete or anyone else who engages in physical activity sweats, electrolytes are lost through the sweat. If electrolytes are lost too quickly, the body does not have the ability to restore them as rapidly as they were lost. Sports drinks contain electrolytes such as chloride, sodium, and potassium to help replenish what was lost through sweat. By putting electrolytes back into the body, dehydration is prevented. If dehydration is not attended to, it can become a very serious problem for a person. Electrolytes help to increase the absorption of fluids into the bloodstream.
A person can become dehydrated in as little as 30 minutes if they are exerting energy without putting back the electrolytes. Therefore, it is suggested that athletes begin drinking a sports drink even before they start their activity.
Replenishment of Energy
Fatigue can occur quickly, for anyone who has exercised, or who partakes in physical activity. One of the reasons for this is that exercise increases metabolism, and when a person’s metabolism is working overtime, it breaks down carbohydrates quickly. Carbohydrates are one of the main sources of energy for the body.
By replacing lost carbohydrates, the body can continue to work efficiently and an athlete has more energy to complete their activity.
Replacement of Lost Vitamins and Minerals
The human body also draws energy from various vitamins and minerals only found in certain foods, beverages, or supplements. Sports drinks contain these vitamins and minerals to help keep the body working efficiently during activity.
Quenching of Thirst
A person can become thirsty as the body loses fluids. The ingredients found in sports drinks can quench thirst as effectively as water and better than soft drinks, leaving an athlete feeling more refreshed and energized.
The Right Balance of Ingredients
In the past, many athletes created their own energy or sports drinks. Upset stomach or poor absorption rate of the drink could occur from the wrong balance of ingredients. Some athletes still create their own drinks; however, a sports drink that has a proper balance of ingredients will be much more effective than any homemade version. Most commercial sports drinks have the correct balance of electrolytes, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and liquids. Without the right mix of ingredients in the proper amounts, sports drinks could hinder an athlete instead of enhancing his or her performance.
A Variety of Color and Flavor Choices
If you think that the color of a sports drink does not make a difference, spend a few minutes at the snack bar at a Little League field. Children and many adults find the color choice very important. Color can invoke a mood such as a cool blue color giving the feel of thirst quenching mountain water or a hot red color invoking the image of energy. It may be psychological, but it is still important.
Those who drink sports drinks also have taste preferences, and with the variety of sports drinks offered today, there is a choice for every taste.
They Don’t “Run Through” a Body as Quickly as Water
Water may quench thirst, but it doesn’t replenish any of the lost electrolytes, carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals as sports drinks can. Although all of these things are lost during sweating, they can also be lost through urination. Water causes more frequent urination than sports drinks do. Therefore, sports drinks not only replenish these important electrolytes, carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals, they also can help the body hold on to the ones they already have for a longer period of time.
The primary ingredient in any sports drink is water. Water is important for re-hydration. With the additional ingredients in sports drinks, this makes sports drinks a better choice than water alone. This goes not only for athletes, but others who exert a lot of energy and need to replenish the essential nutrients that have been quickly depleted in their bodies.