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Isotonic drink vs water in sport activities


Physical exertion leads the body to a state of dehydration due to the loss of water by sweat, respiration and urine.

Our body is composed of 60% water, being the most important element of our body. Therefore, it is important to ensure an adequate daily amount of water. Physical work, high temperatures and sports accentuate the need for water to our body.

During sports, we must anticipate a more important intake of water to avoid dehydration and maintain optimum levels of resistance. Dehydration can lead not only to a loss of performance but can also lead to a higher risk of injury.

For short duration physical activities, the studies do not show a special relevance drinking sports drinks instead of water.

However, for activities longer than one hour, it is recommended in addition to water, a replacement of carbohydrates and electrolytes.

Sodium is the electrolyte that we evacuate the most through sweat. Because sodium helps to retain fluids and stimulates the arrival of water and carbohydrates in the small intestine, it is essential to replenish the levels and obtain it through sports drinks.

By analyzing the composition of the sweat, it is observed that the loss of potassium, although to a lesser degree than sodium, is also relevant. Thus, a contribution of potassium in beverages is important but not essential according to the studies. It is more important to replace it in drinks after exercise to normalize rehydration as it facilitates water retention.

Knowing that glycogen stores are limited in the body (around 10% of the weight in the liver and 1% of the weight in the muscles) an energy intake during sports has been shown to be effective in the performance of the athlete.

Due to the different absorption pathways of the different carbohydrates, a mixture of them in sports drinks is recommended. The American College of Sports Medicine not only recommends that the drink have a high glycemic index but also that if there is a mixture of different carbohydrates, a greater use of them is obtained.

Dehydration affects the performance of the athlete. For this reason it is important to drink liquids on a regular basis.

Depending on the levels of dehydration the effects can range from a decrease in performance and cramps and dizziness to severe contractures and an organ failure or life-threatening.

After 30 minutes of effort it is necessary to replace liquids. They are recommended between 150-200ml every 20 minutes. It is not advisable to take more liquid than necessary to compensate for the water deficit. The ideal temperature would oscillate between 15 and 21 degrees. Cooler drinks do not favor absorption and the hottest ones are not usually palatable.

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