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The Importance of Nutrition in a Sports DrinkOne comon misconception in IronMan and sports nutrition in general is the tendancy to disregrd the general ideas of nutrition when we choose our sports drink or fuel for a long bike ride, run or race. In general, we usually wouldn't wolf down a large soda or chocolate, or at least if we did, we might be somewhat sheepish about it. In long races, we quite regularily eat large quantities of simple sugars and preservatives.
The argument for the massive and disproportionte intake of sugars is largaly founded. Two arguments are used to justify this comsumption during and immediately after strenous and prolonged exertion. The reasons are generally as follows:
(1) An athlete requires a steady and large supply of glycogen for his/her working muscles. In order to consume suffient calories to fulfuil this need, simple sugars must be ingested, (2) During certain times, the athlete may experience a significant and detrimental drop in blood sugar stores. During times such as this, it is necessary to replensh the muscle glycogyen stores as quickly as possible. In order to do so, a sugar with a high glycemic index is ideal.
There are two very good reasons for the ingestion of high glycemic, simple sugars during the completion of intense physical activity. I do not wish to argue these two points. There logic is sound. The main reasons against the consumption of sugar are:
(4) Increase in blood sugar levels and the corresponding rise in insulin can can lead to insulin de-sensitivity, a precursur to Type II diabetes (5) The increased blood sugar overloads the body and must be metabilized by the liver into fat. This process creates unnecessary stress on the liver and results in increased body fat. Worsening the problem is a corresponding crash in blood sugar levels soon after the blood sugar is metabolized. This crash in blood sugar levels quite commonly causes the individual to eat more sugary foods, and the cycle repeats... (6) The ingestion of caloric dense foods satisfies an individual's caloric requirements, but causes nutritional deficiencies.
In general, (4), (5) are not a problem if an individual is working out. However, (6) is still a concern. When exercising, the bodies nutritional requirements are if anything, increased. Furthermore, in day-to-day life, we may not lament a 10% drop in energy due to poor nutrition. We can deal with having to breathe slightly harder as we climb the stairs. However, for most athletes, a 10% drop in performance is unacceptable.
This 10% drop in performance can easily be a result of poor nutrition despite adequate caloric consumption. Free radicals are on of the unwanted byproducts of using oxygen as fuel. Serious athletes under intense training regimins show large amounts of damange from free radicals. On of the most important times to consume the anti-oxidants Vitamin C and E is during heavy training. Unfortunately, athetes with usuallly impressive and stellar diets all to common turn to sports drinks that are essentially sugar an water for thier dietary needs when their training. This approach does not work, and leads to premature muscle breakdown due to microscopic muscle damage from free radicals. Inevitable, an athelte consuming such a sports drink will not preform to thier potention.
As other examples, new studies are showing the need for protien supplementation to prevent muscle degeneration during heavy activity. Using a sports drink that does not have adequate protien will also decrease athetic performance. Futher needs of athletes during exercise are potssium (ensures maxmum contraction of muscles) and sodium (low sodium levels cause headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, lethargy, restlessness, confusion and disorientation).
In general, the standard principles of nutrition still hold when we're exercising. It's not as if when exercising we can consume artificial flavours, preservitives and dyes with impunity. If anything, all bets are doubled. Instead of feeling a little less energetic because all we had for breakfast were Top Ramen noodles, we'll bonk at mile 20 of a marathon.
Nurtrition is very improtant when exercising. We have found that there are two options.
(1) make your own a sports drink that is healthy. (2) get www.custom-sports-drinks.com to make your own organic custom sports drink. They have options of adding high quality organic whey/hemp/vegetarian protiens, organic carbohydrates, spriulina, chorella and a host of other high-quality additives to ensure that your sports drink is helping, not hurting your athletic pursuits.
Until next time,
good luck eating and training,