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Sports drink question

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 1:48 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Sports drink question Reply with quote

Up until this spring I have only raced and ridden with water. After my first race this season at RHR I realized I needed something more than just water during a race- especially for the longer expert races. I bonked hard that race. From then on I've been racing with gatorade/water mix on the 1st and 3rd laps and plain water on the second. I haven't done any reasearch on this, but it seemed like a good idea.

I was wondering if the other brands such as cytomax and endurox are going to be better that gatorade? Any benefits of using these fancier sports drink?

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The Bike Doc

Joined: 08 May 2003
Posts: 1371
Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 2:22 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote


Using a sport drink such as Gatorade will definitely be to your benefit. There are ample published studies that show duration of maximal output and time to exhaustion (the bonk you experienced) takes longer to occur when a sports drink is consumed compared to plain water. When working out at high intensity in the heat, a conditioned athlete can loose 2 quarts of sweat per hour. That translates into four 16 oz water bottles, three 24 ounce water bottles or a 70 ounce CamelBak bladder per hour. If you drink full strength Gatorade or other sport drink at this rate of 2 quarts an hour you may experience abdominal cramps due to too much sugar passing through the intestines and not being absorbed. This is where diluting the sport drink to 1/2 to 3/4 strength is of benefit. If riding in cooler conditioins, then drinking full stength sport drink at a rate of 1 quart an hour should not cause problems with abdominal cramping.

The advantage to drinking a sport drink is that it replaces the electrolytes that you loose in sweat (predominently sodium, potasium and chroride) and it also provides glucose to help with your muscle energy requirements. You cannot get enough glucose to meet all the muscle energy requirements from the sport drink and you muscles will have to deplete their own stores of enery (glycogen) but the sport drink will delay that time to depletion of those stores. If you try to take in enough calories prevent that depletion by making your sport drink more concentrated than recommended, you will likely suffer from intestinal cramping due to the inability of the gut to digest the higher calorie concentration during an intense workout.

Is there and advantage of one sports drink over another. The manufacturers certainly believe so. I have found in my experience that inexpensive Gatorade works extremely well and I try not to get hung up in the marketing hype. Gatorade is a 6% glucose solutiong or 60 grams per liter some other manufacturers boast that there sport drink has 20% more energy (calories) than Gatorade. This in not desirable as the higher calories will over load the gut's ability to digest the sugars during and intense workout. You should look at keeping the total amount of carbohydrate in the solution to no more than 100 grams per hour for the volume that you will be drinking. At one quart an hour with full strength Gatorade you should have no problems. At 2 quarts an hour you may have problems with full strength Gatorade (120 grams of carbohydrate) so the dilution to 3/4 strength will give 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour keeping below the max of 100 grams. What is most important for you is to find one you like the flavor of, it does not break the bank when you buy it and to use it whenever your race or work out intensively.

Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc
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