Sports Drinks vs Water — Which is better for you?

Fitness experts remain undecided about the effectiveness of sports drinks after exercise. Some experts believe they’re too full of sugar to do any good, while others claim they’re an effective way to replace bodily fluids lost while working out. What do we think? Well, it depends. Let’s dive deeper into what sports drinks are and let you decide what’s right for you.

Sports Drink Defined
What is defined as a sports drink? A sports drink, or “energy drink,” is any beverage meant to rehydrate, boost energy, and replenish electrolytes lost in sweating. All sports drinks contain water, sugar, salt, carbohydrates (sugar), and potassium. Some drinks contain extra ingredients (like amino acids) to help build muscle mass. (1)

Side note: Beware of the hundreds of “energy” drinks on the market. Many of those drinks claim to be sports drinks, but actually contain more sugar and caffeine than is necessary for anyone trying to lose weight through a workout.

What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are essential to ensuring that your body’s cells are working properly. In the world of nutrition, we use the word “electrolyte” to refer to minerals dissolved in the body’s fluids, creating electrically charged ions. The electrolytes that are the most important in nutrition are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. (2)

Unless you’re exercising vigorously, you lose only a few electrolytes when you sweat. Normal electrolyte loss can be replaced by drinking plenty of water and eating a balanced diet. Yet when you have a really hard workout and sweat a lot, you may lose too many electrolytes. If you are doing moderate exercise in a very hot environment, you may also lose electrolytes that can’t be replaced by drinking water alone. This is where sports drinks come in.

Since sports drinks contain sugar, they can help replenish electrolytes lost during a workout, and can also give you a boost of energy. But that doesn’t mean you should guzzle them down before and after each exercise, because like we said above, one concern with sports drinks is that they deliver unneeded calories. Some contain 150 calories, the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar.(4)

Conclusion
Experts recommend drinking up to three cups of water for every pound of weight lost while working out. But that may be difficult for some people because they don’t like drinking large quantities of water at once. So if you’re one of these people, opting for an energy or sports drink is going to lead to better hydration.

But you don’t need a sports drink to recover from a workout. Drinking water along with edible sources, like energy bars or fruit, contain just as many carbohydrates as sports drinks. If you choose this option, you can drink plain water to hydrate.

Sources:
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sports_drink
2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-are-electrolytes/
3. https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/sports-drinks-and-exercise.aspx
4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/trade-sports-drinks-for-water-201207305079

Good Mood Foods: Nutrition to Balance Hormones

We all have our ups and our downs, it’s natural. Those days where we feel lost, unmotivated, heavy, and maybe even sad. We are humans after all, and you’re allowed to feel these things. However, while you are going through these occasional downs, there are ways to help your body, and your mind, feel better. By eating natural foods and healthy fats instead of turning to sugar and processed carbohydrates, you’ll begin to feel reenergized in no time, and the list below includes some of the top nutrition powerhouses.

Who doesn’t love an avocado? In guacamole, on toast, on a salad, as a salad dressing, they’re great for all meals! But what you might not know about avocados is that the healthy fat content helps your brain run properly by balancing your hormone levels, ensuring that the correct amount of each is being produced without interference. By including avocado in your diet, you can be sure that you will not only receive the proper amount of fat intake, protein, potassium, and various vitamins, but you will feel better while consuming it.

Raw nuts such as brazil nuts, almonds, and cashews all have high levels of serotonin, which is the feel good chemical in your body known to increase happiness and motivation. So, if you’re feeling down, eat some raw nuts of your choice! Look for the unsalted varieties on the shelf. Also, avoid eating too many as the body utilizes quite a bit of energy to digest them. Enjoy in moderation!

You always hear about the health benefits of leafy greens. Swiss chard is a top pick, as it’s loaded with magnesium. A majority of Americans are magnesium deficient, and it is a nutrient that is responsible for the biochemical reactions in the brain that boost energy levels. It’s best to get on the green bandwagon and start enjoying Swiss chard in salads and smoothies.

Speaking of greens, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts aid the liver in ridding the body of excess estrogen. Throw kale, cabbage and bok choy in the mix and you have a wonderful source of phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Last, but definitely not least, is asparagus, which is actually one of the best sources in the plant kingdom for tryptophan, a prime nutrient involved in the creation of serotonin. Which is, of course, that feel good chemical in the body we talked about earlier. By having asparagus in your meal plan for the week, you are indeed increasing your happiness by upping the key nutrients in producing feel good hormones.

It’s always best to keep a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy fats and carbohydrates in your diet. Remember, the more color you eat the better you will feel!