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Hydration 101: Sports Drinks vs. Water

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Nov. 5, 2013
  • Updated Nov. 5, 2013 at 6:17 PM UTC

What To Drink After Running

After you are finished working out, water or a diluted sports drink is not the best choice for your recovery needs. Water and diluted sports drinks do not contain enough of the sugars and electrolytes that your body needs in order to bring itself back into balance.

In addition, because water or highly diluted drinks are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream, consuming high quantities results in a rise in plasma volume (in non technical terms, this means your body is oversaturated with water). This rapid absorption leads to a further imbalance of electrolytes and frequent bathroom stops, which will only increase fluid loss and decrease your desire to drink.

Your best choice after a workout is a drink that contains a good amount of sugars, electrolytes and possibly some protein. Scientific literature has consistently shown that drinking a beverage that contains a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is optimal for recovery. Therefore, at the very least, you should be drinking a sports drink after you exercise to help ignite the recovery process. Consuming one with protein will also help speed things along.

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Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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