Sports drinks are designed to rehydrate competitive athletes during workouts, training and competition. Comprised mostly of water, these beverages also contain a mixture of carbohydrates for energy, and electrolytes to ensure proper muscle function. However, they also contain artificial colors and flavors to entice athletes to use their products.
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Water is the primary ingredient in all sports drinks, and everyone participating in athletic activities needs to ensure proper hydration. Dietitians recommend water as the best source of rehydration for most people. Unless you are going to be active for longer than 60 minutes, Lisa Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist for North Dakota State University, recommends water alone as a source of rehydration.
Many people exercise as a means to control or lose weight. If you eat properly, and are not exercising for over 1 hour, your body should have ample stores of carbohydrates and electrolytes to see you through your workout.
Sucrose, dextrose, fructose and glucose are simple sugars found in sports drinks. Sugars are basic carbohydrates that provide energy to the brain, nervous system and muscles. During workouts, muscles burn through the body’s stores of glucose. The simple sugars provided by sports drinks are easily broken down and utilized by the muscles for energy.
Essentially, sodium, potassium and chloride are minerals in the body needed for proper muscle function. Proper muscle function is essential, especially for top athletes. However, these minerals are excreted in sweat, and athletes tend to sweat a lot. Athletes use sports drinks to replenish the electrolytes lost during intense physical activity.
Artificial Colors and Flavors
Artificial colors and flavors are FDA-approved chemicals that make sports drinks easily recognizable to the eyes and palate. Their primary purpose is to make the drinks visually appealing and taste good to consumers.