|Written by Kevin Piasecki, PT, OCS, Quality Care Physical Therapy|
ShareEven though the “hot” summer days are over in the Pacific Northwest, athletes still need to remember to drink enough fluids when exercising. Whether running in the Seattle Marathon, playing football or basketball, going on strenuous hikes, or cross country skiing, athletes need to maintain appropriate hydration in order to optimize performance.
As the body sweats in order to cool itself off, valuable water and electrolytes (sodium, potassium) are lost. The amounts lost depend on several factors, including fitness level, air temperature and humidity, clothing and strenuousness of the activity. Water and electrolytes need to be replenished in order to maintain optimal levels of performance.
Often, athletes choose between water and sports drinks. Water is often perfectly adequate for moderate exercise lasting less than an hour. For activities that promote a lot of sweating and/or last more than an hour, sports drinks may be necessary to help replenish lost electrolytes. The role of sports drinks is two-fold: 1) replenish lost water and electrolytes; and 2) provide carbohydrates to working muscles.
Choosing the “best” sports drink can be confusing and overwhelming. There are dozens of drinks and flavors from which to choose. Options include color, flavor, cost, caffeine, protein, carbohydrate, sodium, potassium. Ideally, 8 oz. of sports drink should contain the following: 14-18 grams carbohydrate; 110-120mg sodium; 25-30mg potassium*. Following the above guidelines can help the serious athlete maintain performance during competitive or strenuous exercise. If you have any questions regarding sports nutrition and/or exercise, contact your local nutritionist or physical therapist. We at Quality Care Physical Therapy can be reached at (425) 486-6079.
* Vredenburg, J. Feed for Speed: Sports Nutrition for Peak Performance, Cross Country Education Seminar, Seattle WA (2011).