POWERING UP: THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SPORTS DRINKS AND GELS

POWERING UP: THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SPORTS DRINKS AND GELS

For anyone wanting to maximize their performance, energy gels and sports drinks might seem to be an elixir of energy, promising to help us exercise harder, for longer. Yet to the health-savvy, the high sugar content of some of these products can raise warning flags. So when are sports drinks better than water, and do gels really stop you from ‘hitting the wall’? Maxwell Pharmacy, Inc., a drug store in East Harlem New York, New York will iron out the confusion.

There is a bewildering array of sports gels and drinks on the market, many with words such as energy, hydration and isotonic brandished in their advertising campaigns. Such words are powerful marketing tools, but can be equally bewildering in what they actually mean for the average consumer.

HOW DO THESE ENERGY-INDUCING SUBSTANCES WORK?

To know whether gels and drinks will boost your performance, you need to know how they work. Energy gels and sports drinks provide readily available sugar, usually in the form of a glucose polymer called maltodextrin, with the aim of fueling working muscles during exercise. Gels typically provide 20-40 g of carbohydrate, while sports dink are normally isotonic, and typically provide four to six percent carbohydrate (20-30 g per 500 ml bottle). The marketing hype suggests these products are a necessity if you are to perform at your best – but in reality that may only be true in certain circumstances.

WHAT IS CARBOHYDRATE SUPPLEMENTATION AND WHY DO I NEED IT?

Carbohydrate supplementation is all about performance. That is because one of the key factors unique to endurance performance is the limited availability of glycogen. As glycogen becomes depleted, there is a corresponding decline in exercise performance – muscle glycogen can be depleted by 60-90 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise. With training, skeletal muscle becomes better at storing more glycogen, but stores may still be inadequate to complete a marathon; for example, where glycogen depletion causes runners to ‘hit the wall,’ a sudden, extreme fatigue that can cause disorientation and collapse.
As exercise duration increases, there is greater reliance on blood glucose to provide the fuel necessary to continue exercising, hence the need for gels, drinks and other carbohydrate sources during exercise. So if you are racing for more than 60-90 minute, carbohydrate intake is strongly recommended at a rate of 30-60 g per hour to help prevent fatigue and maintain performance. , offers a variety of carb supplements you can choose from.

WHICH CARBS SHOULD I CHOOSE?

Runners often prefer sports drink and gels because they provide easily digested carbohydrates that can be taken relatively easily whilst running. Cyclists might prefer to include some actual food in the form of dried fruit, bagels, sports bars, oat cakes and other simple carbohydrate sources that are more satisfying than gels, particularly on sportive rides that might last five to six hours or more.
But whatever you choose, it is important to practice your fueling strategy before the race. Many a race performance has been thwarted by gastrointestinal problems or other unexpected issues resulting from untested fueling strategies. Practice fueling in training, ideally at race pace, to see how your body responds and also to iron out any practical issues, such as how you are going to carry your fuel and how easy it is to open the packaging.

To keep you going in an exercise or marathon, why not drop by at Maxwell Pharmacy, Inc.’s drug store in East Harlem New York, New York? We’ll help you power up!

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