Sports drinks often claim to be more hydrating than water, but can anything do the job as well as good old H20? Well, let’s dig a little deeper and find out…
How do sports drinks work?
Many sports or energy drinks (known often as ‘isotonic’ drinks) claim to have similar levels of salt, electrolytes and minerals to the human body. They claim to work by providing the essential minerals and energy lost during exercise that water alone cannot replace.
However, the BBC’s Panorama investigated the claims of a leading sports drink and found there was no evidence to show that it improved exercise or performance for the average person.
While these drinks may be good for hydration, the huge amounts of additives and sugar they also contain can actually cancel out the effects of exercise, unless you’re training at a professional level.
Of course, the high levels of sugar can also negatively affect your skin too.
The best drinks for hydration
Since most of us aren't giving Mo Farah a run for this money, isn’t plain old water hydrating enough?
We caught up with nutritionist Madeleine Shaw to find out if any healthy drinks can really hydrate you more effectively than water.
“Water should always be your primary source of hydration and you should aim to drink two litres a day,” Madeleine told us. “Nothing can ever hydrate you as effectively as water, despite the claims made. However, there are a couple of things you can do to boost and prolong your hydration, particularly after exercise.”
Here, Madeleine shares her three hydrating heroes.
“Coconut water is nature’s own, great-tasting ‘sports’ drink and an excellent source of hydration. It contains naturally occurring potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorous and calcium, so it works to replenish the electrolytes we lose when we sweat.”
“These tiny seeds can hold 10-12 times their own weight in water and are also hydrophilic – this means they prolong hydration and retain the electrolytes in our fluids. I love popping them in a bottle of water, or even almond milk and drinking throughout the day.”
“If you struggle to drink the recommended two litres of water, try mixing it up with a herbal tea or warm lemon water which is great for digestion.”