Staying hydrated during training is important but what role do sports drinks play and are they right for you and your goals? Unlike soft drink which is an obvious poor choice, sports drinks such as Maximus, Gatorade and Powerade introduce a difficult decision for some people. When are sports drinks required or are they required at all?  Let's take a look..

What's the energy in VS energy out?

Sports drinks contain approximately 600-700kj per 600ml (standard serving size) and an average 30min training session burns approximately 1000-1200kj. Crunching the numbers reveals that you would be replacing approximately 50% of the energy you burnt if you consumed a sports drink in your 30min workout. 

What should I drink for weight loss?

Achieving an energy expenditure that's greater than energy intake is an important part of a weight loss program. Exercise plays an important role in increasing 'energy out' but sports drinks contribute significantly to 'energy in'. Water is the preferred option if your main training goal is weight loss. It allows you to replace fluids without increasing energy intake. If you're exercising for short durations and able to replace fluids frequently, water will provide adequate rehydration in most normal circumstances.

But what about for performance?

Sports drinks with electrolytes and carbohydrates such as Maximus, Gatorade & Powerade are ideally suited to very high intensity or longer duration training sessions where adequately rehydrating during exercise is difficult. Sports drinks may also be preferred when performance is the main objective due to the benefits of faster rehydration and replenishment of muscle glycogen (energy) stores.

Consider your main training goal when choosing which fluids to drink before, during & after exercise. Sports drinks definitely have a place when performance is the focus but not when weight loss is the main objective.

David Eggins | Personal Trainer at Drive Fitness in Brisbane |