A few weeks ago I started counting down my top 10 myths about fitness and nutrition. Read myth #10: being skinny means you are healthy and myth #9: lactic acid causes soreness.
Myth #8 is that you need a sports drink after working out. The marketers of these drinks really have it down. The commercials have a way of making you feel like drinking a sports drink after a workout means you really worked out and you’re real tough/athletic/muscular/good looking, etc. What they don’t tell you is that there’s only a small percentage of exercising individuals who really need them.
But I need to replenish my electrolytes right?
For a typical workout – the answer is no. You only need to replenish your electrolytes if you sweated A LOT. So that will usually only apply to distance activities like running or biking, when ambient air is warm. (if the ambient air is cool your sweat rate will be significantly lower.)
Another thing that cracks me up is the use of the fancy term “electrolyte.” Sure we have trace amounts of chloride and potassium in sweat, but the only significant loss is in sodium. Duh, that’s why your sweat tastes salty. That means, if you do sweat out enough sodium to require replenishing, you can eat or drink anything that has salt in it. One of my local firefighters has found that potato chips work best for him after running long distances.
So if I don’t need a sports drink after I PT at the station, will it really hurt me to have one (because come on, it makes me look cool…)?
It depends. If you are trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight, and you’re dependent on your workout for that, drinking a sports drink will only mean you’re taking in extra calories. Since exercising doesn’t burn that many calories (more on that later), drinking a 100 calorie sports drink may mean you’re cancelling out half to one third of the calories you just burned!
Of course, you do want to re-hydrate after exercising. So drinking a sports drink (over water) is totally great if you’re not watching your weight.
In the comments below, tell me: does this surprise you? Also, are there any fitness/nutrition myths out there that you have questions about or that get on your nerves? Let me know!
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I shed a lot of sodium when I do a long workout (biking, firefighting, etc). I know I need it when I start getting cramps. My family Dr., after checking me out, advised to use salt tablets, along with hydration, when the cramps start. He said that he almost never advises patients to do this, but, in this case, it works for me.
Thanks for your input Paul!
I love these myth busters. What about protein drinks for weight lifters?
Hey Steve, yes I talk a lot about that on my blog! Here are a few articles: