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The Best Miracle Sports Drinks is....?

Step right up folks to the amazing sports drink bar! Now offering a complete line of drinks with added protein, vitamins, oxygenation and herbs. Maximize your workouts and get the energy you need for only $1.99!

What's in all these amazing drinks and which ones are the best choices for you? Let's look at the ingredients sports drink companies add to help you out.

Sugar. The standard 12 oz. can of Coca-Cola Classic has 40 grams of sugar. Gatorade has 21 grams of sugar per 12 oz. serving, Powerade has 21 grams, All Sport has 28.5 grams of sugar and Red Bull has an amazing 42 grams of sugar per 12 oz. serving!

That's a lot of sugar, and certainly more than you should settle for in a "healthy" drink.

Protein and Vitamins have been added to some drinks. That sounds good, because everybody knows those things are healthy. Unfortunately research shows there is no immediate performance benefits from added protein, and there is no research showing any benefit of adding vitamins to a sports drink.

(Just a note, there is plenty of research showing benefits of consuming a protein drink or bar one hour before, or within thirty minutes after your workout.)

Oxygenation and/or Herbs are promoted by some companies to entice you to buy, but these are empty come-ons. Oxygen used by muscles is absorbed through the lungs, not through the stomach or digestive tract. Paying extra for an oxygenated drink is a waste of money. The same goes for added herbs like ephedra, ginkgo biloba or ginseng. To date there have been no conclusive studies showing any performance benefits from these herbs and some have been linked to problems like heart attacks and stroke!

Electrolytes are another "benefit" of sports drinks. Quick, without looking any further define the word "Electrolyte."

The American Heritage® Dictionary defines an electrolyte as: "Any of various ions, such as sodium, potassium, or chloride, required by cells to regulate the electric charge and flow of water molecules across the cell membrane."

A normal diet contains all three of these electrolyte minerals in excess, and your kidneys limit their loss from the body. Drinking "added electrolytes" in most cases is simply a waste.

So now we've learned that sports drinks can have high levels of sugar, added calories, oxygenation, herbs and other additives that in most cases offer no benefit, and in some cases can actually cause harm. Reading further down the ingredient lists we also discover some have fat, caffeine or other stimulants.

Knowing this, should anyone drink sports drinks?

Yes. Some people can benefit from sports drinks. Specifically, endurance athletes (meaning people who work out hard for two or more hours at a time) may need to replenish levels of potassium and sodium. If you're a marathon runner or tri-athlete, simple sports drinks can help.

SPECIAL NOTE: In the Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 289: E1023-E1029, 2005 a study was conducted to find out what happened when people drank high-sugar drinks during exercise. Officially, here's what they said.

"Ingestion of carbohydrate during exercise may blunt the stimulation of fat oxidative pathways by raising plasma insulin and glucose concentrations and lowering plasma free fatty acid (FFA) levels, thereby causing a marked shift in substrate oxidation."

What does that mean? Drink high sugar drinks during exercise and you won't burn fat as effectively. Yet another reason to reach for WATER instead of sports drinks!

What the majority of us should drink is...water.

If you exercise for up to 60 minutes at a time, water is your BEST bet to improve performance and avoid dehydration. Keep water close at hand and consume small amounts frequently throughout the day. If you wait until you're thirsty you've already started to slip into dehydration.

The recommended amount is a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. During the summer, or if you're working out regularly, you should increase it to ten 8-ounce glasses of water daily.

Finally, if you're eating a high protein diet or taking any supplements, you should drink at least one extra cup or two of water every day.

There you have it. The miracle sports drink is also the cheapest. Water. Drink some today!

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1/9/2003