What is the best sports drink?
It can be hard to know how to choose the best sports drink when there are so many options on the market.
Knowing how the different ingredients affect your body and performance is essential, so to help you out, we’ve outlined what makes up the best sports drink below.
Who should consume sports drinks?
First things first, should you be using sports drinks? Well, if you’re not exercising heavily, sweating, or playing a sport, then probably not… unless perhaps to assist in hangover recovery – or prevention when drinking the night before.
In fact, Sports Dietitians Australia states that sports drinks are primarily designed for exercise longer than 90 minutes, while also potentially being beneficial pre and post-exercise.
While the length of your exercise is important, other factors, such as exercise intensity, diet, individual sweat rates and environmental conditions, can all influence whether a person should use a sports drink.
If you are sweating a lot, doing high-intensity activities, exercising in hot or humid weather, or have had a few too many beers, then a sports drink could be beneficial.
Sports drinks contain carbohydrates to provide energy for your body and improve performance.
Most of the carbohydrates in sports drinks come from sugars, leading many authorities, including the Australian Dietary Guidelines and Better Health Victoria, to recommend that people limit their intake of high sugar sports drinks.
High-sugar sports drink consumers could face weight gain and other negative effects linked with excessive sugar intake if their consumption outweighs their energy needs.
This might be easier to do than you think, with some sports drinks containing as much as 46 grams or 11 teaspoons of sugar—already plenty more than the six teaspoons recommended for adults per day.
With this in mind, a low or zero-sugar option is usually going to be the best sports drink choice for those looking for an energy boost.
Low-sugar sports drinks, like THORZT, use low-Gi carbohydrates to fuel your body, which also has the added benefit of contributing to a more sustained energy release, as opposed to the ‘sugar spike’ found in high-sugar drinks.
Electrolytes and BCAAs:
Water is not the only necessary ingredient to maintain healthy bodily function and hydration. Electrolytes and branch chain amino acids (BCAAs – essential amino acids the body cannot manufacture) also have a significant impact on physical and mental performance.
Sodium (salt), potassium, magnesium and calcium are lost when sweating and should be replaced along with water.
Sodium is the most important electrolyte and is linked to healthy nerve and muscle function, with deficiencies leading to confusion, nausea, headaches and, eventually, death.
While most sports drinks include sodium, many do not contain BCAAs or other electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, which can increase muscle strength, recovery time and overall performance.
And BCAA supplements have been shown to improve physical performance, brain function and exercise ability.
Consequently, choosing a sports drink with BCAAs, as well as a broad range of electrolytes could reap potential benefits not found when consuming lower quality sports drinks.
Depending on the brand, sports drinks may also contain other ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals, protein and caffeine.
However caffeine may be a problem. While it provides an added energy boost, there are many health and safety concerns around the consumption of high levels of caffeine.
Reading the ingredient labels is important to ensure you know exactly what you’re consuming.
So what is the best sports drink?
While it will vary depending on the person and what they are using it for, choosing a product that includes BCAAs as well as electrolytes, and which is low in sugar and doesn’t contain unwanted other ingredients, will provide the most benefits to performance without increasing unnecessary health risks.
THORZT was created by four professional athletes, including an Olympian, to improve performance, recovery and wellbeing. It contains electrolytes, BCAAs and low-Gi carbohydrates, approximately half the sugar of regular sports drinks (as well as a zero sugar option), and is gluten and caffeine-free.