Last year, Gatorade learned an important lesson: don't come for water.
Here's a bit of background:
The sports drink company created a video game encouraging players to drink Gatorade instead of water. Long story short, they got sued, and now they can no longer say anything defamatory about the most important liquid on earth.
Now, that doesn't have to change how you feel about Gatorade or sports drinks in general. There are ways to make them work for you. Plus, you can also try alternatives like coconut water.
That said, check our tips for choosing the best sports drinks for your workout.
First Things First
It doesn't matter what type of workout you prefer. You have to remember to drink up before, during, and after your workout. Aim for at least two cups before the activity.
Then go for a drink every 15 to 20 minutes. This will ensure your body stays well-hydrated. For longer workouts, grab a 16-ounce water bottle, fill it with your preferred sports drink, and keep it near you so you don't forget to drink up.
If You Like Sports Drinks
Keep in mind that the best sports drinks aren't about the brand. Even regular albeit boring tap water can be the best if you're pressed for time and only plan on doing a short workout.
In a pinch, you can also drink diluted fruit juice. But if you prefer a sports drink because you're concerned about lost electrolytes, make sure to check the label first.
Go for a drink that offers ideal amounts of carbs, potassium, and sodium (14 g, 28 mg, and 100 mg, respectively). That's for an 8-ounce serving. You should also avoid carbonated sports drinks, as the bubbles might cause an upset tummy.
Now, if you find that most sports drinks are too sweet for your tastes or you're just worried about the extra calories, you can dilute it with water or pour it in a water bottle filled with ice.
Coconut Water as an Alternative
How does coconut water stack up as a sports drink?
Pretty good, especially if you're watching calories. Per 100 ml, it's only 18 calories, plus it offers about the same amount of carbs as most sports drinks. It's also isotonic, which means your body will absorb it more rapidly than plain ol' water.
One of the reasons why many consider coconut water as a good sports drink has to do with its potassium content. Compared to a medium banana, which has 362 mg of potassium, coconut water offers about double that amount per cup.
If you ever felt muscle cramping during a workout, it could be the lack of potassium that's to blame. Not only does this important mineral regulates the function of heart muscles, it also plays an important role in fluid management.
Together with sodium, it works to move water glycogen and other waste products through the cell walls.
What About Kombucha Tea?
Fans of Kombucha tea swear by its health benefits including weight loss. As a sports drink, however, you can't really call it that.
To know why you have to understand what it is exactly. First, Kombucha tea is a tea. Now, you might be an avid tea drinker but as something you'll want to drink before, during, and after a workout, it may not be - pardon the pun - your cup of tea.
You see, Kombucha tea is actually green or black tea mixed with a mother of bacteria and yeast. Some liken the taste to apple cider, which is good if you're not bothered by the vinegary taste. But some just don't like it.
Of course, there are brands that offer approachable flavors. These are perfect if you've never tried Kombucha and want to know what the big deal is. At best, you can think of Kombucha tea as a good health drink to supplement your healthy lifestyle.
But if you're looking for the best sports drinks, there are other alternatives you're better off trying.
Okay, How About Alkaline Water?
Alkaline water is basically water that has a higher pH level than regular drinking water. Those sold in the market have a pH of 8 or 9.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most people prefer plain water. They also say that most claims about high pH water require more research. These claims include cancer and heart disease prevention, delayed aging and bone loss.
But there are also studies that suggest alkaline water could help with conditions and instances such as acid reflux disease, high blood pressure, and workout performance.
Alkaline Water and Acid Reflux
A 2012 study, for example, concluded that compared to conventional drinking water, alkaline water can instantly inactivate pepsin. Pepsin is an enzyme that triggers the stomach to produce acid. Without it, the protein digestion process would be very slow.
Alkaline Water for Hypertension, Diabetes, and Hyperlipidemia
Another study looked at the effects of alkaline ionized drinking water in managing blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood lipids. Preliminary results show that there were significant reductions in these factors.
Alkaline Water and Workout Performance
One study you might be interested in (you're looking for the best sports drinks, after all) is published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2016. The researchers concluded that after a strenuous workout alkaline water was able to significantly reduce blood viscosity compared to plain water.
Viscosity, by the way, is a measure of blood flow and how effectively it does so through the vessels. With high pH water, blood is able to flow more efficiently. This means better oxygen delivery throughout the body.
Best Sports Drinks: What's Your Choice?
Now that you know how different types of drinks stack up as a sports drink, you should be able to choose the best sports drink for you.
If you like water or alkaline water, remember that these work best for shorter workouts. As for sports drinks, you can still drink them if you like. Just remember to check the label so you're getting the ideal amounts of carbs and electrolytes.
Coconut water is also a good alternative. You'll like it if you're looking for a low-calorie, high-potassium option.
Kombucha tea, on the other hand, is not a sports drink. But it's worth trying as a health drink.h
Interested in healthy beverages? Don't forget to check out our collections!