Running is one of the best exercises a person can do. It works on the whole body, including the muscles. In fact, runners are some of the fittest persons in the world. However, running takes much hard work, especially in the summer months when the heat can be a bit unbearable.
Therefore a person who runs – no matter what the distance – needs to be constantly hydrated. If you run, your body creates more heat than what is normal. As a result, the temperature robs your body of the water it needs. You lose fluid.
In addition to this, you may also lose glycogen, which is essential for glucose storage in the body. If you lose or do not have the right amount of glucose in your body, the tendency is for you to lose much energy and you can become weak.
So, when you are not adequately hydrated, many things – all not good – can happen to you.
As such, whether you run short distances or love joining marathons, it is important to stay completely hydrated. If you are not properly hydrated, your body will not only suffer from it; your running performance will also be significantly affected. Moreover, trauma will just be the least of your problems.
Regular running requires you to make water a part of your routine. Hydration is essential not only during and after running but also before starting the run. You will need the minerals, sodium, and electrolytes, which is why many runners rely not only on water but more on other hydration options like sports drinks.
Who Needs Sports Drinks?
As mentioned, sports drinks contain sodium and electrolytes, which both provide essential support when a person exerts much physical effort for an extended period. Thus, both are important for runners regardless of the distance they are running. Not replacing the lost electrolytes can lead to a decrease in sodium levels which may pose a danger to the body. Serious runners should drink at least eight to 10 liters of water, including sports drinks.
Athletes, cyclists, and people who work out regularly are some of those who need sports drinks. Additionally, a person who has low levels of electrolytes – particularly those who sweat more than others when engaged in a physical activity – also need sports drinks.
Lastly, people who have diabetes also need sports drinks occasionally because of their increased risk of dehydration.
What is a Sports Drink?
In the simplest of terms, sports drinks are described as beverages specifically created act as electrolytes and energy replacement before, during, and after an activity, competition, or training. They are formulated with carbohydrates, which are excellent sources of energy.
Sports drinks also have calcium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and sodium – otherwise known as electrolytes. These electrolytes are what an athlete or runner needs to get what he or she lost. So, it promotes proper rehydration, and in the process, stave off fatigue brought about by exercise.
As there are a lot of sports drinks you can choose from, it is essential to determine those that contain potassium, sodium, and carbohydrates. Most of these drinks usually contain preservatives and sweeteners, however.
Likewise, it helps to remember that there are different types of sports drinks. Knowing them will help you choose the one that best suits you and your running needs.
Isotonic sports drinks are those that have the same salt and sugar concentrations as the human body does. They contain carbohydrates and efficiently replace all the fluids you lost or will lose through running. It is one of the best sports drink you will quickly find on the market. Most runners prefer these sports drinks.
The second type of sports drinks is called hypertonic. These drinks contain more salt and sugar concentration than the human body does. These are the best sports drink to take after a workout because it helps improve the muscle glycogen and carbohydrate in your body, especially the ones that are lost during intense physical activity.
Hypertonic is perfect for ultra-long-distance runners because they complement the high energy demands of the physical activity. They are more effective and efficient though is taken with isotonic sports drinks, which are ideal for replacing all the fluids lost during a run.
The last sports drinks type is hypotonic, which also have lower salt and sugar concentration compared to the human body. They are quick in replenishing the fluids you lose when you sweat.
Hypotonic is ideal for those who need much hydration without a carbohydrate boost.
To determine how much fluid, you need when and after you run, go on the weighing scale before you run. Take note of your weight. Immediately after your run, weigh yourself again and calculate how much fluid you lost. The fluid in your body should be sufficient. Ideally, the fluid you lose should not be over 2% of your total body weight.
Additionally, it is also essential to take note of how much sodium you lost. If your sweat is more than the usual, you should assume that you have lost a significant amount of sodium because it is guaranteed that you have lost at least one liter. Ideally, you should take in at least 20 ounces of fluid if you want to be properly hydrated after a grueling run or exercise.
The best practices for runners are drinking water at least 2 to 4 hours before going out to run, bringing a bottle of the best sports drink while running, and replenishing all the lost fluid by drinking sports drinks for up to around 24 hours after the run. Likewise, runners should veer away from coffee, alcohol, and tea.
What are the Components of Sports Drinks?
Yes, sodium (electrolytes) and carbohydrates are essential components of the best sports drink. However, there are other components that you need to learn about and understand if you want to determine which one will give you the best results.
Water. The ideal sports drink should contain at least 92 to 94% of water. This component should be one of the main ingredients of your drink. Water is the best option for rehydration, which is why sports drink manufacturers always make sure to include it in their products.
Water may not have the same number of electrolytes, but it can still replenish a significant level of the liquid you lose during the run.
Carbohydrates. Another essential component of sports drinks is carbohydrates. An ideal type should have at least 6 to 8% of carbohydrates, which are critical to providing the fuel you need for your muscles and brain. This component will also give you back the sugars you lost – mainly blood sugar and glycogen. Both are essential for energy.
Likewise, if you choose a drink following the carbohydrate levels indicated above, your body will be able to absorb the liquids faster and more efficiently.
Also, carbohydrates are also suitable for your muscles.
Sodium. This electrolyte is the best of all. It is also the one that you can lose a lot of off once you begin sweating off while running. When you lose a significant level of sodium in your body, you can suffer a variety of adverse effects. One of these is muscle cramps.
Also, if you lose a major amount of sodium, you can develop hyponatremia, which means your blood sugar levels are already lower than the regular, normal levels. Also, with the right sodium levels in your sports drink, your thirst will be enhanced, and you will drink more liquid and become more hydrated.
These are what electrolytes are all about, which is what sodium is also intended to do.
Potassium. Potassium is another electrolyte you need to replenish after a long and physical run, especially when the area or place you are running in or around a sweltering environment. Even if potassium loss is not as dangerous as sodium, it can still wreak havoc on your body.
The electrolyte potassium is essential if you want to enjoy well-balanced electrolyte levels.
Calcium and Magnesium. Two important electrolytes that should be in your sports drink, calcium and magnesium help in making your muscles relax.
Magnesium aids in the development of ATP or adenosine triphosphate. Likewise, this electrolyte regulates muscle contraction, protein synthesis, and neuromuscular transmission.
Calcium, on the other hand, works by supporting and improving muscular contraction, as well as glycogen metabolism, among others.
When these two components work together, they effectively and efficiently help in promoting good muscle function.
Sodium Bicarbonate. Sports drinks also contain amounts of sodium bicarbonate, which helps prevent muscle burn or the building up of lactic acid that often results from excessive running or workout. Because of this, sodium bicarbonate is helpful in increasing endurance and preventing fatigue.
Chloride. Chloride is another electrolyte that is just as important as sodium and potassium. Its effects result to correct regulation of electrical potentials in all the cell membranes.
These components are essential components of the best sports drink as they help in bringing your fluids to balanced levels while also improving the absorption rate of these fluids.
What are the Precautions of Sports Drinks for Runners?
There are several precautions for runners who take sports drinks. Foremost of these is the fact that these drinks are not formulated in the same way, so you should always pay attention to the ingredients label on their packaging or bottles.
Another important fact to consider is sports drinks’ sugar content. As most of the sugar levels in these drinks are quite high, parents are warned not to give these to their children (including teens), especially those who have weight problems and even those with dental concerns. Adults who need to lose weight should take precautions when drinking these electrolyte and energy-giving drinks. The best option is to lose for low sugar varieties or reduced calorie sports drinks.
Additionally, consuming a lot of sugary drinks like most sports drinks can lead to an uncomfortable and bloated feeling.
What are the Best Sports Drink for Runners?
Knowing the components and getting feedback about various sports drinks you can easily purchase will help you determine which one is best for you. Here are five options of the best sports drink currently making waves in the online and offline markets.
Gatorade Thirst Quencher Frost – Glacier Freeze
Gatorade is one of the most respected and popular sports drinks manufacturers in the world. This product, the Thirst Quencher Frost, contains essential ingredients like potassium, carbohydrates, and sodium. The formulation of this product, which may well be the best sports drink within your reach, is the result of years of scientific research.
The Thirst Quencher Frost boasts of an excellent carb-to-fluid ratio that helps to rehydrate the body and fuel the muscles quickly.
- This sports drink is refreshing and tastes good.
- Perfect for kids, teens, and adults.
- Contains safe ingredients.
- Recommended by athletes.
- Comes in different flavors/varieties: orange, grape, cherry, fruit punch, lemon-lime, and Riptide rush, among others.
- Effectively rehydrates and quenches thirst.
- Some consumers find the flavor(s) a bit artificial.
Biosteel High-Performance Sports Mix
This can be the best sports drink because it is not only enhanced with electrolytes, it also contains quite a significant amount of vitamin B blend, as well as amino acids. The latter is important for protein synthesis. The vitamin B blend, on the other hand, is essential for metabolizing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
Minerals and electrolytes are also in this sports drink. The mineral blend helps replenish essential nutrients which allow the body to perform better.
Biosteel’s sports drink is safe for people with diabetes and is likewise ideal for vegans.
- This sports drink is ideal for athletes and for adults who need a daily hydration aid.
- Does not contain harmful ingredients.
- Uses Stevia Rebaudiana leaf for sugar.
- Does not contain caffeine or any banned stimulant.
- No artificial colors or flavors and preservatives.
- Hydrates well, even after intense runs or workouts.
- Some consumers say it did not give them significant results.
- There are also complaints of the sports drink being “too sweet.”
- This sports drink may not mix that easily.
R.W. Knudsen Family Recharge Mixed Berry Flavored Sports Beverage Mix
This sports beverage or drink is made from natural fruit juice, so it does not contain artificial flavors. Its active ingredients are filtered water, apple, organic white grape, pineapple and raspberry juice concentrates, strawberry juice concentrate, natural organic flavor, and sea salt, among others.
- Safe for kids, teens, and adults.
- Organic and does not contain artificial flavors.
- Tastes good, like your favorite fruit juice.
- Effectively boosts energy.
- Quenches thirst.
- High in electrolytes.
- Can be a better alternative to Gatorade and Powerade.
- Can be quite sugary.
- Can be a bit expensive for some people.
- Maybe easier to find online than in supermarkets.
- Although it is marketed as containing organic lemon, a closer look at the label will reveal that it contains white juice CONCENTRATE. Some people may not like this.
Hammer Nutrition HEED Sports Energy Drink
This sports drink is made with a complicated carbohydrate formula and does not have any added sugars in it. Hammer Nutrition HEED Sports Energy Drink is ideal for vegans and is also safe for those allergic to gluten. It does not contain any MSG (monosodium glutamate) and is Kosher certified.
Additionally, it contains a significant number of electrolytes. It is an ideal pre- and post-workout sports drink.
- Perfect for runners, even for the most competitive and intense ones.
- Provides quick recovery.
- Helps improve endurance.
- This best sports drink buffers lactic acid.
- Helps alleviate cramps.
- Has a natural and refreshing taste.
- The somewhat malty taste may not work for some.
- Can make you feel a bit bloated.
- The sports drink may not mix well.
NuAquos Electrolyte Sports Drink with Protein
This 12 o 20-ounce bottled sports drink contains six essential electrolytes, 12 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 16 vitamins and minerals. What it does NOT contain are cholesterol, high fructose corn syrup, fat, lactose, gluten, and caffeine.
NuAquos Electrolyte Sports Drink is ideal for proper recovery and rehydration, and for restoring nutrients. It is best for runners and those who live a highly active lifestyle.
Each 20-fluid ounce-bottle has around 140 calories.
- Potassium and sodium ratio of 2:1 assures excellent hydration properties.
- Carbohydrates to protein ratio are also 2:1, which helps achieve complete and proper recovery.
- Ideal for triathletes – or any athlete – who need complete recuperation after a competition or intense physical activity.
- Tastes good and has just the right level of sweetness.
- Can be quite expensive.
- The first sip may not be that good, but it will improve as you drink more.
Our Choice for the Best Sports Drink for Runners
As much as we would like to choose another brand, the best sports drink for us is still Gatorade Thirst Quencher Frost – whether it is the Glacier Freeze or another flavor. Moreover, this is not only because it is a product made by one of the best and most popular manufacturers in the world, but also because it does provide what it promises.
It has all the ingredients runners need to rehydrate and recuperate after a long run or even a marathon: potassium, sodium, and carbohydrates. It has been proven time and again to effectively replenish electrolytes, and not only by famous basketball and football players but also by athletes from different parts of the world. Moreover, that is one other thing that makes Gatorade stand out – it is available and used in many countries around the globe.
The fact that much scientific research was invested in creating this best sports drink is also a huge factor. This gives consumers a major reason for trusting the product.
While it may not taste just as good as the other sports drinks in the list above, it is refreshing. It tastes good, although it might take some people a bit of getting used to. Also, it is not that sugary. Likewise, you can choose from different flavor;
So, if you want the best sports drink, one that can effectively rehydrate and energize you (and your body), as well as quench and satisfy your thirst, choose a product that’s been trusted for generations. Go for Gatorade.
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Check out more info on best sports drink for runners here:
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