While many people still believe that sports drinks are the key to improving their performance and replacing much-needed electrolytes, others think that water is the way to go.
The key is knowing when plain water will do the trick and when you need serious electrolyte replacement.
What is a Sports Drink?
Sports drinks like Gatorade are enriched with sodium and potassium. When running, you lose a lot of electrolytes through sweating. You might have even seen salt stains on your hat or tasted salt in the sweat running down your face.
Proper electrolyte replacement helps your body retain fluids and prevent muscle cramps. So, after you hit the 90-minute mark, you need to consume more carbs to maintain the same degree of effort. This is where sport drinks come into play.
Sports Drinks for Dehydration
Many sports drinks contain a long list of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes claiming to keep you on top of your game. Avid runners know when to drink water and when they need that extra boost.
If running for more than 90 minutes, particularly if you’re sweating a lot, you do need electrolyte replacement.
Depending on whether you’re inside or outside also plays an enormous role. There’s a big difference between running on a treadmill and running outside in the heat.
Why Runners Need Sports Drinks
Without proper electrolyte replacement, runners who complete longer runs are at high risk for hyponatremia. Low blood sodium, or hyponatremia, occurs when runners drink an excessive amount of water without salt replacement.
Best Sports Drinks for Runners
As an avid runner, you know that hydration equals power. Staying properly hydrated without worrying about running out of steam. To maximize miles with minimal efforts, these are the sports drinks you should be downing.
For daily training sessions, Bon Breaker adds zip to your water with just enough carbs to provide power for runs less than 90 minutes long. Flavors include Lemon-Lime and Goji Berry. In addition, this sports drink is free of artificial colors. allows you to go further, faster without having to worry about running out of steam. While drinking regular water is okay for jogs around the block, you need to kick things up a notch for long hauls.
For long-distance runners need an enormous amount of electrolyte replacement, Skratch does just that. With over 21 grams of carbs per scoop, it’s the perfect energy boost for those prefer not to eat before running and during hard training sessions.
For runners with sensitive stomachs, Maurten makes staying hydrated a snap. Hydrogel technology turns this beverage into a jelly-like substance, which provides smoother carbohydrate absorption. In addition, it also has three times the carb levels of other sports drinks. It’s supposed to the perfect drink for runners with stomach woes.
Regardless of personal opinion, there are times when water is the better choice. However, there are also times when a runner needs electrolyte replacement.
Just remember that there's a huge difference between running and running well. Use water to fuel shorter runs but always make sure you refuel with high-quality sports drinks for longer runs and workouts.