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Thread: Sports drinks?

  1. #1
    Twist of fate... peggy I_Have_No_Legs's Avatar
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    Sports drinks?

    i was thinking about starting up drinking sports drinks for befor and after i ride, do they really help out, and if so what would u suggest i get?

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    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    How long are you riding? If you are going for 30 minutes to an hour, then a sports drink is not necessary and will not improve your performance. The three main ingredients in all sports drinks are water, sugar, and salts. The water is self evident and is necessary in almost all riding conditions, can be had from the tap at no charge, and contains no calories. The sugar, in various forms (glucose, fructose, sucrose, etc.) is to ultimately provide glucose to the bloodstream and presumably to be converted to glycogen for the muscles. There is some research that seems to support the theory that some sugars help in the absorption of water, but the effect is probably minor, as is the effects of the sugars on extending performance. The primary benefit of the sugars is to make the drink taste good and promote increased consumption. Most people do not consume enough water during a ride. The salts are added to help replace the salt lost in sweat. On very long rides, it is possible, though rare, to sweat out so much salt that you can run an electrolyte imbalance. This is a very serious condition and requires immediate medical treatment. Fortunately, it is rather rare and generally only a problem for athletes doing very long durations with only water and no food.

    The downside of sports drinks can be that they have about 150 calories per 24 oz bottle. On a hot day, you can suck one of these down in a hurry. If you are trying to lose weight, that's just 150 more calories you have to burn off.

    What I do is use water primarily for hydration. On a long ride of several hours or more, I may purchase a Gatorade about 3/4 though the ride. This is more for psychological benefit though and to get a good drink of really cold beverage.

    I'm sure that there are plenty of others here who will disagree with me and contend that one brand of sports drink or another really improves their performance. It very well may for them, but I have not been able to discren any difference between sports drink and water except for the psychological reward factor of satisfying my sweet tooth.

  3. #3
    Wide Load HalfHearted's Avatar
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    Sports gels are probably better than sports drinks - reason being that with gels you can regulate your intake of carbs (sugars) and electolytes separately from your hydration. That said, I use drinks because I believe in making my own "potions" and drinks are easier to make up than gels.

    As supcom mentions, you shouldn't need a sports drink unless you are going out for more than an hour or even two unless you are riding extremely hard in very hot conditions.

    I have a bad heart and high blood pressure and have to watch my salt intake, which is one of the reasons I make my own bars and drinks. The other primary reason is that I'm a cheap sort who isn't about to pay two or three bucks for a 64oz bottle of sugar water and a buck-thirty for a power bar! A drink that works very well for me, does a good job of replacing electrolytes without too much salt, and is dirt cheap, is to mix:

    1) a pack of unsweatened Kool Aid(tm) of your favorite flavor
    2) two or three tablespoons of honey (depending on how much is needed to take the bitter edge off the Kool Aid flavor you've chosen). Note, the drink should remain tart - sweet drinks won't quench your thirst and you'll be getting a lot more sugars than you need. You don't want to use the drink as a primary source of carbs - use your power bars for that. Use just enough sweetness to make the drink palatable.
    3) 1/4 teaspoon of Morton salt substitute (for the potassium)
    4) one B6 or B complex vitamin (if you can find it, get the water-based gel cap type, poke a hole in the cap, and squirt the contents into the mix).
    5) two quarts of water

    The "stats" for an 8 oz serving are:
    Sodium - 8 to 16mg (depending on Kool Aid flavor)
    Potassium - 76mg
    Carbs/Sugars - 4g (for 2Tbsp honey, 6g for 3Tbsp honey)

    Total cost is about 50 cents for 2 quarts.

    If you check the labels on popular commercial drinks you'll find them similar, though some are higher in sugars and most are a little higher in sodium. Most also don't have the B vitamins.

    The B vitamin aids the body in making efficient use of the other ingredients and the sugars from honey are better for ya than refined sugar. Potassium is an electrolyte and is much better for your body than high levels of sodium, especially for those with heart and/or blood pressure problems.

    Even with my homemade brew, which suits me very well, I usually carry one or two bottles of sports drink and one bottle of plain ole' H2O. On a long ride (4 or 5 hours) it's easy to reach the point where your body is overdosing on the electrolytes and sugars, but you still need hydration. Therefore, on long rides I alternate between sports drink and water.

    John

  4. #4
    Senior Member markm109's Avatar
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    John -

    Thanks for the recipe - exactly what I was looking for.

    On Saturday I rode 25 miles in 1.5hours with 80deg temp and 100% humity. I didn't eat breakfast and only took water. Up to that point, 35 miles is my longest so 25 is a good training ride. I rode hard the entire time (I'm 250lbs so it is a good workout) and got sick / hurt the rest of the day. My sugar wasn't low (I'm a type 2 diabetic) so the only thing I could think of was dehydration / electro imbalance (lost 4 lbs on the ride even with drinking 20oz of water).

    So on Monday, when I set out to do my longest ride ever, 50 miles, I stopped at the store to get a sport drink. I was shocked to see that a gatorade had 14g sugar per 8oz - way too much for me being a diabetic - I did find one that only had 2g. But a $1.39 a bottle, it's pretty expensive. The drink did help since I did the 50 miles (with a brake for lunch in the middle) and didn't feel 1/4 as bad as I did on Saturday.

    Your recipe is exactly what I need - I'll be picking up some Koolaid today.

    Anyone ever use dried fruits, like banana chips and such for carbs during the ride? I would like to stick to natural sugars vs. what is in those power bars.

    Mark

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    Senior Member Bolo Grubb's Avatar
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    I think I will try that recipe too.

    I have experimented with mixing the powder Gatorade (lemon lime flavor) and various flavors of Kool-Aid with very little sugar added (never thought to try honey).

    So far I happy with the flavors.

    I also almost always carry a bottle of water and a bottle of my sports drink. If it is a long ride or really hot ( I live in Arizona) I will freeze a bottle of water to take. This way I have ice cold water longer into the ride.

  6. #6
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markm109
    John -

    Thanks for the recipe - exactly what I was looking for.

    On Saturday I rode 25 miles in 1.5hours with 80deg temp and 100% humity. I didn't eat breakfast and only took water. Up to that point, 35 miles is my longest so 25 is a good training ride. I rode hard the entire time (I'm 250lbs so it is a good workout) and got sick / hurt the rest of the day. My sugar wasn't low (I'm a type 2 diabetic) so the only thing I could think of was dehydration / electro imbalance (lost 4 lbs on the ride even with drinking 20oz of water).

    Mark
    You most likely were suffering from heat exhaustion, not an electrolyte imbalance. Riding in 100% humidity makes it hard for the body to cool itself. Going real hard makes the problem worse. Losing 4 lbs in 1.5 hours is almost half a gallon, or 64 oz. Feeling sick is a symptom of heat exhaustion, which is one small step away from heat stroke! Drink lots more fluids.

  7. #7
    Wide Load HalfHearted's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markm109
    John On Saturday I rode 25 miles in 1.5hours with 80deg temp and 100% humity. I didn't eat breakfast and only took water. Up to that point, 35 miles is my longest so 25 is a good training ride. I rode hard the entire time (I'm 250lbs so it is a good workout) and got sick / hurt the rest of the day. My sugar wasn't low (I'm a type 2 diabetic) so the only thing I could think of was dehydration / electro imbalance (lost 4 lbs on the ride even with drinking 20oz of water).
    Hope the recipe works for you, let us know how it goes.

    4 lbs is almost a gallon of water, if you replaced it with only 20oz it's no wonder you were feeling poorly afterwards. In general, if you don't need to urinate every 90 minutes or so, or if your urine is very dark when you do urinate, you are not hydrating enough.

    Also, a hard workout early on an empty stomach is not a good idea. Your body needs fuel - especially some carbs - during a hard workout. If you don't give it the fuel it needs it will attack muscle and you may do more damage than good.

    Post-ride make sure you continue to hydrate until you are urinating with normal frequency and color, and if you are really "punked out" - have a whey protein shake or something else high in fairly easy-to-digest protein. This will help build lean muscle mass, the mere presence of which will increase your resting metabolism and fight fat. Actually, protein shakes are fairly low in calories and having one after any hard ride is probably a good idea whether you are punked out or not.

    Finally, during a ride if you reach a point where for a prolonged period you feel completely done in it is time for a break (note the specification of a prolonged period, not to be confused with the initial "wall" you sometimes hit a few miles into a ride). Take on some water and fuel (especially carbs) during the break. If you press on through a period of prolonged total exhaustion there is a pretty good chance you will damage muscle tissue. This is why I always carry a power bar of some sort even if I don't intend to use it, it's no fun to be 15 miles from home or the car when you realize you don't have enough fuel for the trip!

    By the way, you can make your own "heart healthy" powerbars, too:

    1) 6 TBsp natural peanut butter
    2) 4 TBsp pure honey
    3) 1 scoop Whey protein mix (I use EAS and the stats below are based on that)
    4) 2 cups non-instant Quaker Oatmeal ("Old Fashioned")
    5) 1/4 teaspoon Morton salt substitute

    Mix all the ingredients well with an electric blender. Press *firmly* into a rectangular container (I use the sandwich-sized disposable glad containers). Chill for two hours or more in the refrigerator, then cut into six bars and wrap them in cellophane food wrap. Store in the refrigerator until your ride. These will soften during the ride, but not much more than PowerBars brand bars. Each bar has:

    Total fat: 17g
    Sat. fat: 2.8g
    (Note, almost all of the fats come from the peanut butter. Not all natural peanut butters are created equal, try to find one that has as little saturated fat as possible. If you use "normal" peanut butter it will have a lot more saturated fat, which is nowhere near as okay for your heart.)
    Tot. carb: 32.5g
    Sugars: 17.8g
    Fiber: 3.3g
    Potassium: 127mg
    Sodium: 30mg
    Protein: 13g
    Calcium: 27mg

    John

  8. #8
    Wide Load HalfHearted's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bolo Grubb
    I also almost always carry a bottle of water and a bottle of my sports drink. If it is a long ride or really hot ( I live in Arizona) I will freeze a bottle of water to take. This way I have ice cold water longer into the ride.
    I know a lot of people that do that but I don't really recommend it. You will almost always under-hydrate when using chilled drinks. When you drink an iced drink your brain gets its signals crossed and thinks you've quenched your thirst long before you've taken on enough water. In fact, if you do try to take on enough iced water chances are good you will get stomach cramps. I learned both of these the hard way when I spent six weeks in sweltering heat and humidity in Malaysia several years ago.

    Of course, if you're talking about a long ride so the chill will be off the drink and it will be room temp by the time you use it, that's not a problem. Myself, I just drink the 90+ degree water 'cause I figure it's gonna be that hot by the time it reaches my stomach anyway

    John

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