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Sports Drinks

Hydration & Supplements: Sports Drinks vs. Energy Drinks

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It’s important to stay hydrated during physical activity. While water is still the best choice for hydration, other acceptable options are available. Do you know what is most effective for your workout?

Sports Drinks
Sports drinks are ideal for athletes looking to hydrate and replenish after long, intensive exercise (usually greater than 60 minutes). Sports drinks contain a combination of electrolytes, carbs, minerals, and vitamins. This combination of nutrients serve to restore lost fluid and sodium levels. Additionally, the sugary carbs found in sport drinks provide athletes a boost of natural energy to aid in recovery.

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Energy Drinks
Energy drinks are never a good option for athletes. While these beverages do provide an apparent energy boost, the effects are temporary. Energy drinks contain few helpful macronutrients, like carbs, and instead use the stimulant caffeine to create an artificial boost of energy. These high concentrations of caffeine can act as a diuretic thus increasing dehydration risks. Too much caffeine can also cause jitters, dizziness and headaches leading to decreased performance. High doses of caffeine have been linked to cardiac emergencies.

Chocolate Milk?
Effectively recover with chocolate milk. Low-fat chocolate milk makes a simple yet effective post-workout snack. Offering just the right mix of carbs and protein, this tasty drink refuels your body and helps muscles through recovery. Drink up!

Out Smart Muscle Cramps:
Painful muscle cramps can quickly sideline an athlete. While the root cause is still being researched, dehydration, muscle imbalances and improper warm-up are likely factors. Follow these basics to help prevent muscle cramps:

  • Stay hydrated, make sure your athlete does not start the practice/game dehydrated.
  • Pack a refillable water bottle to drink throughout the day.
  • Consume a balanced diet with healthy amounts of sodium.
  • Bolster weak muscle groups with functional, plyometric and strength training.
  • Practice foam rolling and static stretching in tight areas.
  • Incorporate a dynamic warmup.

Written by the Therapy Team at the Center for Physical Rehabilitation – Grand Rapids, Michigan.
To learn more about the Center for Physical Rehabilitation click here.


Hydration: What, When and How Much



Water is needed to regulate your temperature, maintain joint health and to deliver essential vitamins and minerals. Dehydration leads to impaired nerve and muscle function due to the imbalance of sodium and potassium within the body. Brain and muscle function become impaired causing decreased muscle coordination and impaired athletic performance.

Early signs and symptoms of dehydration include headaches, dry mouth, chills, dry skin, excessive thirst, and fatigue. The color of ones urine is a good indicator of proper hydration. Improper hydration will cause your urine to become a dark yellow. Signs of worsening dehydration are increased body temperature, heart rate and body temperature. If you become confused, have vision disturbances and difficulty breathing seek immediate medical attention.

Your risk of dehydration increases when you sweat excessively, increase your exercise intensity and duration, when the temperature is high and at high altitudes.

The American Council on Fitness suggests these guidelines for moderate to high intensity exercise:
• Drink 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before the start of exercise.
• Drink 8 ounces of fluid 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up.
• Drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
• Drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising.
• Drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.


But it shows us how much fluid we can lose during higher levels of exercise and why it is so important to stay hydrated. It is very important to drink water before, during and after practices and games especially in the warmer months.

Many sports teams will weigh the athletes before and after practice to determine the amount of fluid lost. The recommended weight loss limit due to fluid loss is 2% of your own body weight per day. It is recommended that you drink 16-24 ounces of water for every pound lost.

water bottle


Definitely in taste but nothing hydrates the body better than water. Sports drinks do provide more potassium, minerals and other electrolytes which will help you sustain your performance during exercise and may help you recover quicker especially in workouts over one hour in duration. The biggest problem with sports drinks is the sugar content. Many of them have multiple servings per bottle. Glucose is essential but you do not need as much as you will find in most sports drinks. I recommend a combination of water and a low sugar sports drink. Research also indicates that chocolate milk may help the athlete recover more quickly when consumed after exercise due to its carbohydrate and protein content.

You should consult your pediatrician or family physician if you feel that you or your child has problems with dehydration.

This information was written by Evergreen Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy group located in Saginaw Valley, Michigan. At Evergreen Physical Therapy, their physical therapy clinics use progressive techniques and technologies to stay on the forefront in their field. Their licensed physical and occupational therapists are committed to providing patients with advanced healing techniques.

Post Workout Nutrition

Post Workout Nutrition Tips for an Intense Workout


After an intense workout you need to replenish your body with the nutrients and vitamins that were lost while exercising. We have compiled a post workout nutrition guide to help you make good choices as you refuel your body.

Intake within 30-60 minutes post workout for optimal nutrient uptake (muscles and energy system get the most out of the nutrients).

PROTEIN TO CARBOHYDRATE RATIO OF 3:1 (chocolate milk is perfect: 8g Carbs/ 24g Protein)
• Slows nutrient uptake into the bloodstream (keeping blood sugar from spiking up, minimizing production of insulin which in turn slows fat storage)
• Maintains a steady burning metabolism
• Helps to more effectively restore muscle glycogen (energy)
• Begins to heal muscle tissue quicker.

• Wheat Bagel with Almond Butter
• Tuna on Wheat Crackers
• Cereal with Skim Milk
• Greek Yogurt with Fruit
• Stir Fry
• Turkey/Chicken Sandwich
• Protein Bar
• Hummus with Whole Grain Pita
• Sports drink with Protein Shake
• Water, Water, Water!!!!

weightlifter woman

There are many more choices, and creativity is always an option. The important part is to choose a lean meat or protein source (chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef, tofu, beans, nuts), healthy carbohydrate source (whole grain, fruits, vegetables, nuts) and a small amount of healthy fat (Unsaturated: Avocadoes, almonds, walnuts, olive oil). Mixing and matching these is the best approach. This guarantees the widest range of vitamins and minerals in your meal.