Dietary Advice During and After Exercise

Sports drink : necessary supply

Par Nicolas Aubineau - 6 minutes de lecture

sports drinkNot to be confused with an energy drink (not recommended before, during and after exercise), sports drink is commonly called « drink for sport » by the general public but its real name is « dietary carbohydrate drink »! To be allowed to be named as such, the sports drink must have a specific ratio of carbohydrate / vitamin B1 / sodium. Otherwise, it does not meet the regulatory criteria and can not be called « dietary carbohydrate intake ».


Why use sports drinks ?

To be simple, during a physical effort, your body consumes energy to produce it. Energy is mainly supplied by glycogen (liver) or muscle glycogen, the glycogen stocks are formed by the daily diet (breakfast, lunch, possibly snacks and dinner). It is considered that this contribution, based on the principle that the athlete has a balanced and adapted diet (!), Can provide energy for 1h to 1h30 of effort for a sub-high intensity. After this period, the stock is strongly exhausted, the performance decreases … unless we bring an exogenous energy, external energy such as an sports drink.


What is an sports drink ?

As I explained in the introduction, the minimum for this one is that it is composed of carbohydrates, sodium and vitamin B1. Some brands have decided to use only these 3 ingredients (Punch Power® for example) but it seems important to add some other assets such as:

  • Magnesium: Magnesium intake allows good muscle contraction (transmission of nerve impulses, acid-base balance, energy production), it is important in any type of effort especially on the long,
  • Potassium: it is one of the minerals that is lost in the sweat especially during warm atmospheres (+ 24 ° C),
  • Vitamin C and / or Vitamin E: antioxidant vitamins, they are very important during the effort to regenerate the cells,
  • Niacin (vita B3): it participates in the normal energy metabolism
  • BCAA: derived from proteins, branched amino acids recover during exercise and have an influence on central (moral) fatigue.

It is important, in my eyes, that your sports drink includes these above assets in addition to the 3 mandatory ones.


I draw your attention to the amount of assets in question. Some sports nutrition companies communicate on an asset (eg « we have magnesium ») except that the amount present is not the minimum established by the European regulation on allegations in sport. Voluntary or not, this forgetfulness can deceive the sportsman not connoisseur of the regulation!


What about isotonic drinks, homemade drinks, consumption mode ?


Isotonic drinks

A drink is considered to be isotonic if its osmolarity (concentration of the medium) is identical to that of blood plasma, which allows an efficient absorption of the active ingredients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, etc.) by the body (especially at the intestinal level). Its osmolarity must be between 270 to 330 mOsml / L.


It is necessary to adapt your drink according to the outside temperature knowing that the majority of the efforts (type marathon, trail, triathlon …) are done outside and in warm environment (> 75 ° F) therefore it is necessary to consume a slightly hypotonic drink. To obtain a slightly hypotonic drink, you simply have to overdose your usual drink: if the drink is isotonic for 3 spoons in 500mL, put 3 spoons for 20oz (600mL) for example. In the opposite case (winter race …), a slightly hypertonic drink (3.5 spoons for 16.9oz (500mL), for example) is required.


The parameter that does not change is that you must consume the same amount of product per hour! Thus, if you are in hypotonic drink, it is necessary to drink 20oz (600mL) if one takes again the example previously quoted.


Homemade drinks

I propose many recipes of Energy cake (sweet or salty), Energy crepe, Gingerbread sport, bread crumbs sport or even energy bars house during the effort, the same goes with the homemade sports drink that remains interesting at the quality / price level and moreover easy to achieve. Then, between the tastes of each one, the quality of the intake (a grape juice can be a 100% pure grape juice or a reconstituted flavor grape flavor … and therefore a different contribution), the different sugars (see my article on maltodextrin), it is possible to have a drink adapted to each, specific for a given sports effort.


Mode of consumption of an sports drink

Now that you have identified what an sports drink is, its interest and how to dilute it (slightly hypotonic from May to September!) How to consume it?


Let’s start with the beginning, the basis of your drink is to bring in globally between 1.05oz and 1.41oz of carbohydrates per hour of effort. The overwhelming majority of the trade effort drinks offers you that (except for Effinov Sport which is slightly underneath). From this, I advise you to drink the quantity in 1h. Generally, this amounts to 16.9ozmL so you need to drink 20.3oz per hour. If you overdose to make your drink hypotonic (the same amount of powder for 20.3oz for example instead of 16.9oz), you should drink the 600mL. It is not the 500mL that prevail but the amount of powder that goes with it!


Then, this quantity is taken in small sips but regularly. I always advise sportsmen that I am to consume 2 to 3 mouthfuls every 7 to 10 ‘rather than half a can every 30’. This allows you to have a regular intake, not to overload the stomach with a massive supply of liquid containing carbohydrates, which can lead to digestive disorders!


Of course, it is necessary to start the drink in the first minutes of racing and not wait 1 hour of racing to start it, it is too late. If you start to thirst, the race will be very long and challenging!


Finally, last advice, whatever your drink, test it in the training and in race condition, ideally during long outings. Because it is not the day D that you must discover that you do not like the taste … It is much like shoes, you will never try them on D-Day, so do the same with all of your Race « equipment including drinking.



I highly recommend reading my sports drink comparative to choose your drink according to your criterion: quality or price or value for money. An overdilution during your competitions in warm atmosphere is paramount as well as a test in training. Finally, I strongly advise you to read the label of your drink before running, pedaling or swimming or all three!


Sports Dietitian Nutritionist


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