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Sports Drinks

As an athlete, you need to pay attention to all aspects of your game. Hydration is one critical component of good preparation that is sometimes overlooked.

Published May 02, 2009 05:37

As an athlete, you need to pay attention to all aspects of your game. Hydration is one critical component of good preparation that is sometimes overlooked. Good hydration habits not only help a player to perform better on the court, but also help to reduce the risk of heat illness. Adequate water intake should be the principal focus of maintaining hydration, but certain sport drinks can offer you a great advantage over consuming water alone.

What should I look for in a Sports Drink?

* Sport drinks should focus on the primary nutrients that are needed before, during and after play: water, carbohydrate and electrolytes
* Choose a sport drink that tastes good, so you will want to drink it!
* Choose Non-carbonated sport drink. Carbonation can make you feel full, so you won’t drink as much.
* Choose Caffeine-Free sport drinks, to minimize dehydration.
* The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour approved sports drink is Gatorade.©

Dehydration leads to decreased Performance
As little as 1% loss of body weight can significantly affect performance. A loss of >3% of body weight is dangerous. This can lead to life-threatening heat illness and heatstroke.

When you feel thirsty, you are already 1-2% dehydrated... When it may be too late to catch up!

Drinking too much water or too much low-sodium fluid can also lead to problems. Low blood sodium (hyponatremia) can occur by a lot of sweating and drinking too much water. Symptoms can range from fatigue, nausea and headache to muscle cramps, seizure, or even worse!

Drinking water alone is not enough for adequate hydration

You also need to drink a proper sport drink, with the right amount of Sodium.

Key Ingredients in sports drink for optimal performance:

1. Water
All sport drinks contain mostly water. You can catch up on your fluid loss from sweating by drinking a combination of sports drink and water. Most players can comfortably drink about 1 to 1.5 litres/hour during play.

2. Carbohydrate
Energy needs should be provided by carbohydrate-rich foods during regular meals and snacks. A sports drink can provide additional energy on court (via carbohydrates) that will help you to perform at your best.

During play look for a sports drink that provides:
* About 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per litre (L)
* Primary carbohydrate is Sucrose, Glucose, or a glucose polymer (such as Maltodextrin)

This will give you quick energy, because this amount/type of carbohydrate will empty from the stomach quickly and will be absorbed into your bloodstream rapidly.

Note: More than 70-80 grams of carbohydrate per litre, or a type of carbohydrate called Fructose may make you feel bloated and is not desirable.

3. Electrolytes Sodium and Chloride (= salt) are the most common electrolytes lost in sweating. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium are also lost through sweat, but in much smaller amounts, and it is unlikely you would have a deficiency in these minerals. With adequate salt intake, your body can better hold onto water, and you will maintain hydration better.

The best treatment for heat-related muscle cramps is adequate salt and fluid intake, not potassium or any potassium-rich food (such as bananas).

4. The other ingredients found in some sport drinks, such as amino acids, herbs, chromium, various vitamins, carnitine, or lactate, are non-essential nutrients, and may actually decrease your performance and negatively affect your health.

How Much Sports Drink and Water is Enough?
* Bring about three 0.5 litre (20 oz ) bottles of Gatorade,© and at least two 0.5 litre (20 oz) bottles of water on court for each match. Alternate between drinking sport drink and water on every change of ends.
* In hot and humid environments, you should bring additional bottles of Gatorade© and water on court for matches. You will be sweating more, and will have more fluid losses to make up.
* One (1) litre of Gatorade ©= 35 oz (and about 60g Carbohydrate), and one half (1/2) litre of water should be consumed for each hour of tennis.

Thanks to Mike Bergeron
Sports Science & Medicine Consultant
Sony Ericsson WTA Tour

DISCLAIMER: The contents of the Game, Set, Health site, are for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. The materials herein are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

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