Sports drinks for endurance - why common sense beats science
At 33Fuel we always advocate listening to your body when it comes to sorting your sports nutrition. Whether it's for hydration or fueling, our bodies will always let us know what's needed if we can tune into the messages they're sending. While a lot of science says otherwise on the subject of sports drinks for endurance, you'll find the science concerned is usually heavily biased towards the manufacturers of sports drinks. The recommendations of these studies rarely benefit athletes at all who, instead of leaping towards increased performance, suffer stomach issues, unreliable energy levels and worse when following their lead.
So we were interested to read a recent investigation by the British Medical Journal suggesting that in the case of sports drinks, major sports nutrition manufacturers may indeed be massaging the facts to encourage us pour endless (and often uneccessary) litres of their sugary gloop down our exhausted necks.
The report, titled 'the truth about sports drinks' doesn't make pretty reading.
The intro alone sets out a stark case that modern sports drinks for endurance are far more marketing shine than real substance and that, once again, when it comes to hunger and thirst in sports nutrition, listening to your body and not the marketing spiel is still the key.
"Prehydrate; drink ahead of thirst; train your gut to tolerate more fluid; your brain doesn’t know you’re thirsty—the public and athletes alike are bombarded with messages about what they should drink, and when, during exercise. But these drinking dogmas are relatively new. In the 1970s, marathon runners were discouraged from drinking fluids for fear that it would slow them down, says Professor Tim Noakes, Discovery health chair of exercise and sports science at Cape Town University. At the first New York marathon in 1970, there was little discussion about the role of hydration—it was thought to have little scientific value.
So if it's incorrect, how did the idea drinking so much gain traction in the first place?
An investigation by the BMJ has found that companies have sponsored scientists, who have gone on to develop a whole area of science dedicated to hydration. These same scientists advise influential sports medicine organisations, which in turn have developed guidelines that have filtered down to everyday health advice. These guidelines have influenced the European Food Safety Authority, the EU agency that provides independent advice on the evidence underpinning health claims relating to food and drink. And they have spread fear about the dangers of dehydration.
Water: it's the very stuff of life itself. Swap your sports drinks for water and watch the results flood in
The simple way to determine if your own use of sports drinks is damaging your performance is to look for any of the below signs:
- Unstable energy levels during exercise
- Stomach issues during or after sports drink use
- Disliking using the product - you're drinking it because you think you should, not because you actually want to
- Stubborn fat refusing to shift, usually around the waist area, despite plenty of exercise
If you suffer any of these symptoms, you can easily clear them by:
- Listening to your body: drink when you are thirsty, not to a schedule
- Swapping your sports drinks for water
It was the process of listening to our bodies in our own training and racing and the results it delivered that first lead us away from traditional processed sports nutrition and its outdated dogma of consuming more product - regardless of how you actually feel - and began the development of our own natural replacements that would become the 33Shake products you know and love today.
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