You might find a score of sports drinks brands that promise to boost your energy after an intense sporting session. Engaging in any such rigorous sports activity can leave a player exhausted and in need of an instant thirst-quenching beverage. But would you be comfortable settling with just any other drink that’s available off the retail shelf?
How would you differentiate between the varieties of drinks available or make an appropriate choice? Not all sports beverages are created alike and what works for someone else’s body might not necessarily suit you. If you are looking for an all-in-one beverage, those like Greater Than’s new sports drink can make for a viable option. However, knowing the composition of your health beverage can help you pick a suitable product and offer a great value for money.
From isotonic, hypertonic to hypotonic, health drinks are classified into various categories. Not every layman would be familiar with these terms and considering this, we have got it all covered here.
Understanding the basic difference
Does your sports drink bottle read hypotonic, isotonic, or hypertonic? Well, this defines its concentration levels that would fuel and impact your energy levels. Hypotonic and Isotonic drinks usually have lower concentrations while hypertonic beverages are characterized by their higher carb concentration.
How quickly the drink will be absorbed into your bloodstream is defined by these levels. So, if you are on a high-endurance workout session and need a quick replacement of fluids lost in your sweat during the exercise session, hypertonic fluids could be a favorable choice.
If you were to pick up a few traditional sports drinks, you could typically group them under the isotonic category. Common sports drinks usually constitute 6-8% carbs that offer almost double the number of carbohydrates that hypotonic drinks provide. While they work well in fulfilling carb requirements lost during high-intensity exercise, they may not be as useful in replenishing lost electrolytes.
Experts recommend against long term consumption of isotonic beverages as these can cause gastrointestinal issues such as stomach bloating. If your sports beverage falls in the hypertonic category, it means they are packed with high calories and macronutrients that are efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream.
On the contrary, hypotonic fluids work with the least amount of carbs being absorbed per unit volume of your blood. So, if you want to use your sports drink for hydrating yourself, this would be a better option as compared to isotonic and hypertonic drinks. Not that you need to know the science behind how it works but a little insight on the composition of your beverage can enable you to be an aware consumer.
Did you know that water is the primary ingredient in your sports beverage? Check out this interesting read that discusses whether drinking water is better than sports drinks.
Could energy drinks be called sports drinks?
Well, people often confuse the two. Energy brews typically boost your energy levels, facilitate weight loss, increase endurance, and has caffeine as its main ingredient. Some beverages in this category also contain guarana extract, carbs in the form of sugar and vitamins, and amino acid taurine.
Talking of these beverages, these are water-based and serve the purpose of rehydrating the body with electrolytes lost due to sweating during any activity. Electrolytes are present in the form of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium that drains out with sweat.
While most of them are purposed to replace lost minerals, they can also restore carbs found in the form of sugar, minerals, vitamins, and sometimes, caffeine as well.
Some of these beverages also contain protein and are flavored differently. While these beverages contain sugar and add calories, they also have nutritional value. In case you are not exercising enough, such thirst-quenchers could cause weight gain. Also, sugar quotient or artificial sweeteners can lead to some dental problems. Hence, it would be better to consult a nutritionist before getting started with any new sports drinks.
Dr. Campitelli is a podiatrist in Akron, OH specializing in foot and ankle surgery with an interest and enthusiasm for running as well as helping runners with injuries. For the past several years he has been treating running injuries in patients by fixing their form and transitioning them to minimalist shoes. Having treated runners with all types of injuries through conservative measures with orthotics and shoe gear changes to reconstructive foot and ankle surgery, Dr. Campitelli has brought what works best and is most current to his practice as well as the Akron and Cleveland running communities.