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Post subject: Water vs. SportsDrinks: What You Need To Know  PostPosted: Jul 11, 2008 - 02:49 PM

Water vs. SportsDrinks:

What You Need To Know

Having trouble deciding what is best to drink during and after a workout?
Peter Liu helps make your decision easier.

Do you prefer drinking water or a sports drink of significantly more repute when you exercise? The debate of the effectiveness of sports drinks over water has raged for many decades. Both water and sports drinks each have many supporters, and in terms of mutual effectiveness, both drinks are supported with equal fervor.

However, the question still remains: Which drink reigns supreme? Does water win out over the sports drink franchise? Or do the sports drinks rule over the kingdom of hydrating liquids?

Why We Sweat

To fully understand the squabble of water versus sports drinks, it is necessary to understand why we sweat. Sweating is the bodyís method of cooling down, which is triggered by heavy activity and heat. There are two types of sweat glands embedded in the skin: eccrine glands, and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands are more numerous around the body, while apocrine glands are limited to the armpits and the external genital areas.

Working muscles produce sweat because chemical energy that is used in muscle contraction is not effectively converted into mechanical energy; the excess energy becomes excess heat. The water present in muscles begins flowing to the surface, triggered by a signal from the hypothalamus to get rid of the excess heat. Blood vessels in the skin begin to dilate, increasing blood flow to the skin. The skinís large surface area allows for quicker evaporation, causing fluid levels to decrease.

Higher sweat production occurs during exercise; as sweat rises to the skin, large amounts of water, sodium, chloride, and potassium are brought to the surface. The loss of these electrolytes decreases athletic effectiveness, since the loss of sodium, chloride, and water dehydrates the body.

The most important thing to know is that the amount of sweat produced is equally proportional to the amount of energy used up. It is when the body loses fluids that the debate between water and sports drinks comes to the fore.


The sports drink leaders consist of Gatorade and Powerade; and both drinks essentially have the same ingredients.

Gatorade contains:

Powerade contains:

electrolytes (sodium and potassium)
flavouring (sugars)

The original formulas of both Gatorade and Powerade are the same drink, though with different flavours. Other Gatorade and Powerade variations either contain fewer carbohydrates, more vitamins, more electrolytes, or caffeine. Both drinks boast that their drink helps the body to work harder and more effectively as you exercise, replacing electrolytes as you lose them and enabling your body to drink more liquid. Drinking more liquid quickens rehydration. Gatorade openly claims itself to be better than water.

The truth is that these sports drinks are at their most effective if youíre planning to take part in an extreme exercise event for long periods of time, like a triathlon.

Water Facts

Water contains minerals and electrolytes as Gatorade and Powerade does; however, water can also contain calcium, nitrates, sulphates, and zinc, in addition to the electrolytes. One of the selling points that sports drinks make against water (and bottled water) is that water has no taste. Adding sugars and flavouring to sports drinks supposedly increases their appeal. The flavouring also allegedly encourages the body to want to drink more; Gatorade boasts that people soon tire of drinking water because of its lack of taste.

Water does not contain the extra calories that sports drinks contain; Perhaps, this is the reason why both sports drink brands released newer versions several years ago that contained fewer calories.

Fitness "Water"

Gatorade also released its line of Propel Fitness Water in the year 2000; the same ingredients as Gatorade are present, but also included are some extra vitamins and fewer calories. The selling points are the same as Gatorade; the lightly flavoured water is supposed to help you drink more, while helping you stay active. The fact is that water essentially does the same job.

The Verdict

While Gatorade, Powerade, Propel, and all of their various offshoots boast superiority to water in some way or another, drinks that contain electrolytes are only at their most effective during extended periods of intensive exercise. Water is a much better substitute for normal periods of exercise. If you usually exercise for an hour or more, you can easily replenish and rehydrate your muscles with bottles of water. If your body mostly consists of water in the first place, why replace that water with some foreign liquid?

knowing is half the battle

Athletes will have their own preferences as to what they want to drink while they exercise; and the debate over whether water or sports drinks is better will continue. It is just best to know the facts, no matter which drink you like better.


Medical Information
It is not the intention of Raptor-Pack to provide specific medical advice but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided, and Raptor-Pack urges you to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions and specific medical advice




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