Watching a commercial for sports drinks can make anyone want to jump off the couch, throw on their running shoes, and head out the door. But hydration can have an enormous impact on your performance. Sports drinks can be a great way to consume needed carbohydrates and electrolytes during a long workout, endurance event, or in hot and humid conditions.
Look for a sports drink containing between 6% to 8% carbohydrates (equivalent to 14-19 grams per 8 ounces) and at least 100 milligrams of sodium per 8 ounces.
Bars and Gels
Energy bars and gels can be a great form of additional calories for athletes with an increased need. Typically most bars and gels contain a significant amount of carbohydrates, moderate amount of protein and low in fat.
But choose wisely – there are some that may be considered to be more of a glorified candy bar, loaded in sugar and fat!
Where bars and gels can be very useful in boosting energy during endurance events, you want to make sure it’s not going to be something that will have you running for the port o potty instead of the finish line-yikes! Some may also contain the same caffeine jolt you might get in a cup or two of coffee. If you don’t normally consume caffeine, this can additionally cause an unexpected disruption in your race or workout.
Always remember that a balanced diet should be your first dietary step to assist in reaching your goals. If you decide to add any type of supplement to your day, seek the advice of a registered dietitian to make sure you are doing so safely and in a way that will improve, not hinder your performance.
Written by Lauren Scott, MS, RD, LD