Gatorade vs. home made sports drinks

So, the eternal question: is the orange juice/salt combination as effective as Gatorade for replenishing those lost “things” after exercise? If it’s not as effective, is it good enough?

I keep hearing about how losing electrolytes and having potassium deficiencies after exercising will cause you to die after drinking water, but seriously. Thousands of years of people working hard and then drinking water and the only time I’ve ever heard of this is after a marathon and then only one or two cases. Now, I work hard, but it’s nowhere near marathon hard.

Obviously, this isn’t worth worrying about for dying, but I’ve noticed that after prolonged exertion (4 mile bike ride, 1.5 hours of karate and another 4 mile bike ride), I’ve noticed that if I drink about 16 oz of Gatorade mixed into 34 oz of water really keeps me from feeling overheated and tired for the rest of the day (only water, on the other hand, leaves me feeling dehydrated and achey, even if I drink the same 50 ozs). However, Gatorade is expensive and I’m cheap.

While we’re at it, I’ve heard that drinking the liquid Gatorade undiluted is bad. Howver, I can’t find a reason why it’s bad. Anyone know if it is and why?

OK, last one, how about post-workout powdered mixes. I know there are thousands on the market, but on the balance are they worthwhile? Any one in particular? I’m not necessarily talking about taking Creatine or MetRx for muscle building, but just for making sure that whatever vitamins &c get used are replenished accordingly.

I sometimes use juice, peppermint tea or coffee in my water bottles for cycling. These things are not as effective for re-hydration but I get very bored with Gatorade.

I have a hard time imagining why undiluted Gatorade would be unhealthy.

I occasionally use post work out drinks. I think they are helpful because you can get a lot of calories down quickly. Sometimes I use a powder and sometimes I just make a smoothie with enough protein fat and water to suppress my hunger and re-hydrate. Usually it is fruit, yogurt, honey and some ice. I have used Metrx, but since you are cheap I would recommend a breakfast powder which carnation makes.

Actually, Gatorade is not the star fluid after exercise. It was designed to be used during exercise. It’s glucose level is below the maximum 10% for water absorption without delay. There is a product called Endurox R-4 [sup]R[/sup] that was designed to be used post exercise: it contains glucose and protein in a 4:1 ratio. The maker claims studies have shown that this proportion of glucose and protein right after exercise achieves maximum recovery.

Not potassium deficiency but a sodium deficiency. This is known as hyponatremia, and it has occurred quite frequently in marathon and ultramarathon events. Most don’t die, but a few have, especially in the last few years. This is not a problem unless you engage in endurance exercise in hot weather. The body is well able to control the sodium/potassium balance (think aldersterone), but in extreme cases (as noted above), it fails to do so.

You can buy Gatorade [sup]R[/sup] in powder form and make your own mix, to the potency of your desires.

The only time and reason it may be bad is drinking it during a race when your body is not used to such a strong glucose mix. Most runners I’ve known have always grabbed a cup of Gatorade and a cup of water at the same time. In addition, most of the time the Gatorade is already weak anyway. It is not bad in and of itself.

See my note above.

I will be watching this space for an informed answer. I, too, believe that especially for folks who eat a fairly balanced diet, OJ and a bit of salt should be just fine. Remember that for many years, pro sports players ate the occasional salt pill before Gatorade was invented. I presume we’re going to read about some very fine discrimination in electrolyte balance, but I don’t think it’s going to be very significant. I believe that Gatorade, as well as a gazillion other products, are essentially scams. The fact that people buy WATER (particularly here in Chicago) is proof enough for me that our educational system is a failure. xo C.

If it’s a choice between unfiltered Chicago drinking water and bottled water, sorry, I’m gonna go for the bottled water most every time.

I know. And so would so many others. If by “unflitered” Chicago water, you mean out of the lake, I’d probably agree. But the stuff from your tap is, indeed, filtered. And the fact is that there’s virtually no scientific reason to not drink it unless you have certain idiosyncratic conditions that require it. Or personal preferences, such as a dislike of, say, the smell of chlorine. But you can just let the water stand in your refrigerator overnight and it’s gone. But health-wise, the stuff in the bottle is just…water. So is the stuff in your sink.

At Faire, we mix our powdered Gatorade at pretty much “label” strength, and for first aid (heatstroke recovery) use, we cut it 50-50 with water, as the primary goal there is getting water back into the person. Once they’re back among the fully living, a handful of pretzels generally gets them going again.

Salt pills are contraindicated: too much salt. There’s nothing wrong with OJ, with or without the salt. The only time you have to be careful about the salt is if you engage in endurance events in hot weather, as I already said.

Gatorade and the gazilion other products are not scams. Neither are they necessarily necessary for most people. I happen to like the taste of Gatorade after a run on a hot day. Tastes good and is refreshing. I should mention that pro sports players once also thought that steak was the ideal pre-game food. As for protein with glucose after exercise, a bagel with peanut butter would be just fine.

This I know. I’m talking personal preference. I can’t stand the taste of chlorinated water. Pass it through a Brita filter, and I’m fine. Otherwise, blech…

You can buy gatorade powder at walmart if money is your concern. For $7.35 you get enough gatorade to make 6 gallons. It doesn’t taste as good as pre-made gatorade though.

Along with bannerrefugee’s statements, I will definitely endorse Accelerade, which is basically the same thing by the same company as Endurox, but I find that it tastes better, not that it says anything because they’re both pretty vomitously disgusting until you get used to them.

However, everyone that has been saying that other things are acceptable are right too. There is no magical ingredient in Gatorade, or Accelerade, or Extran, Cytomax, MetRx, or any other sports product, and drinking a glass of water with a peanut-butter bagel should suffice just fine. I use Accelerade becasue it’s more convenient to drink on the bike, but I’ve certainly been known to crack open more than one package of Grandmother’s cookies or one of those convenience store $1 fruit pies or even the 840 calorie 6 month shelf life danishes on a 100 mile training ride.

Probably the most important aspect to any post-workout recovery is the speed at which you get whatever it is you’re using down. In that magic 15 minute window after working out, you still have a lot of insulin floating around to help fuel your exercise, and eating right away will get that food into your muscles helping you recover and go into glycogenesis right away. Getting a decent meal within an hour is also great.

I don’t buy water, but I do buy convenient single-serving containers of water. I don’t drink cola or most other beverages because they’re horribly bad for you, so when I’m thirsty and not home, what would you suggest? Slurping out of a public fountain? Going to a restaurant and buying a meal just to get served free water? Drinking some non-water beverage that’s bad for me just so I can feel I got my money’s worth? I don’t understand why the fact that bottled water exists causes such elitist condescension in some dopers. If you don’t want to buy bottled water, don’t, but if you don’t understand the various reasons why other people would, at least keep your ignorance to yourself.

Similarly, Gatorade and other sport drinks are not magic. You can easily concoct your own at home for a fraction of the price. I buy bottles of Gatorade because it’s easier than coming up with a substitute, not because it’s better.

Look, Ace, you can buy bottled water or even bottled air, for all I care. I’m just positing that there is no scientific reason to do so. Your assertion

is assinine and without merit. Flavored carbonated water (e.g. Coke) may not be your preference, but you’ll have a hard time here providing evidence that it’s “horribly bad for you.” You also may be averse to slurping out of a public fountain. In many parts of the country, notably Chicago, which was my point of reference, the tap water is fine, low in extraneous tastes, low in mineral content, filtered, de-bugged, and Fluoronated. You can drink it. You don’t need to buy a bottle of water. I would also add that when you’re out, and you want to buy a bottle, go ahead, but (get ready for a mind-boggling suggestion) you can also just wait until you get home. And in many places, you actually can go in and ask for a glass of water and get one. But maybe you don’t trust their dishwashers, either, so that might not work for you.

One reason to do so, scientific or otherwise, is convenience. To keep this on topic, my point was that the main advantage Gatorade and its competitors have over home brewed drinks is that you can conveniently obtain it almost anywhere with no preparation required. In the past, only sodas were this ubiquitous and because of both the carbonation and the sugar, they are bad for you. Whether that makes a difference to you is irrelevant, but the fact that water and sports drinks are now similarly available is a great convenience to people who 1) work out frequently, 2) don’t want to carry hydration with them everywhere, 3) like being able to pop into any convenience store and come out with exactly what they want (i.e. water or sports drink) without having to put up with all the bad stuff in sodas.

Not to drag this out of GQ territory, but I buy water all the time for these reasons. I have a PhD. in engineering from one of the finest universities in the world. Now you need to point out exactly where our educational system failed me.

That was another thing I should have asked. OK, so getting the 15-minute drink adn 1-hr recovery meals are good ideas, how about:

Pre-exercise? I recall reading a US Army handbook that says 20 oz of water 1 hr before exercise will allow for sufficient absorption and elimination so that when you start, you’re basically fully hydrated.

During? The thing I keep reading is 1 liter during exercise (assuming a one hour session). This always bugged me because there’s no recommendation on how it should be served. I presume that it’s .25L every 15 minutes ideally. Of course, every routine is different and will have different loads, etc…

How long does it take for water/Gatorade/bagles to be absorbed? I would generally chug water whenever given the chance, but while watching the Olympic marathon, they noted that during the last three miles (~15 minutes at their pace) there’s not enough time to get that water in your system to do you any good.

Thanks for the information everyone, it’s been great.

Well I guess if those are your credentials they are impressive. But unless you’re a bio-chemist I fail to see the relevance. Sorry to once again go off topic but I’m confused. How are the sugars in cola’s or other sodas any different or worse for you then the ones in sports drinks? The very reasons I avoid sports drinks are because they are basically just sugar. If I’m wrong though I certainly want to know.

Too, Penn & Teller did one of their Bullshit! shows on bottled water (which btw, it’s a fact most bottled water is simply tap water bottled at different municipalities) and it was quite funny to see how many people were so impressed with the “bottled water” they were served at a restaurant (which happened to all be the exact same water bottled in the rear of the restaurant from the same hose). So it is possible that what you perceive to taste better is in fact no better then what you would get out of any tap. But because you thought it to be a better water, it tasted better.

It’s very hard to make up a deficit when you’re exercising. So the point here is to not start dehydrated. Other than that I don’t think there is a magic amount.

Just remembering to drink regularly should be enough. If you’re doing a sport with other participants try to take a sip when they do.

I only brought up my credentials because CC said the fact that people bought bottled water was evidence of a failure of the educational system. I was just being a little snide, wondering where my all my education went to waste leaving me too dumb not to buy water.

I’ll try to clear this up before I drag this thread completely off track. I don’t have a problem with the public water supply. It’s very good in my area, and I drink tap water all the time. I buy bottled water for convenience, but I typically save the bottles, wash them, and refill them several times with tap water. I also have a few better-quality bottles that I’ve bought empty (good god, I really did buy a bottle of air. CC must be right about me) and fill with tap water, or I fill one of my various camelbaks with tap water. But if I’m out and about, working out, thirsty, I have no problem popping into a store to buy water. I find this useful and convenient, and I don’t see why some people think the very existence of bottled water is such a scam. People pay for convenience all the time in other products, why not water.

Dr. Timothy Noakes’ book, * Lore of Running *, 1985, is the seminal book on this topic. Dr. Noakes is an exercise physiologist. The following is a summary as it pertains to this thread.

Although dehydration is not the critical factor predisposing athletes to heatstroke during exercise, marked dehydration does have detrimental effects: skin blood flow is reduced and body heat storage (and therefore body temperature) is increased. The major factors causing heatstroke are the environmental conditions, the speed at which the athlete runs, and individual susceptibility. The amount recommended by ACSM, based on an original study, was 250 ml of fluid every 15 minutes. But the marathoners in the study drank only about 100 ml/hr. The metabolism of glycogen releases the water stored in the glycogen, an additional important source. Too much fluid can cause hyponatremia, which was reported in 45 cases in three different years during the Comrades Marathon, which is actually about 50 miles (more recently, with the popularity of endurance events, many more have been reported).

The most important factor determining sweat rate is metabolic rate, which is affected by the speed of running and body weight, each increasing the sweat rate. The fluid should contain substances to restore the body’s supplies: electrolytes, sodium, and glucose. Both fitness and heat acclimatization reduce the sodium content of sweat. And this amount is trivial in the fit athlete, no more than 2 g/hr. The average salt intake far exceeds this. Thus you may conclude that sodium replacement is irrelevant, but the issue is more complex. During prolonged exercise the body is forced to deplete its fluid stores as a consequence of the salt losses in sweat. If this did not occur and if the body fluid stores were allowed to remain normal, then a diluted hyponatremia with potentially catastrophic effects would develop in all runners competing in races over four hours. Hence, both sodium and water must be replaced. It is not necessary to replace either magnesium or potassium during exercise. In addition, athletes must ingest carbohydrate during exercise up to 75% VO[sub]2[/sub] lasting more than 4 hours.

To choose the most appropriate type of carb, the factors that determine the rate at which fluid leaves the stomach and can be absorbed into blood from the intestine. Those factors, as determined in a 1974 study) are exercise intensity, fluid temperature, glucose concentration, and ingested volume. Gastric emptying falls with increasing temperature (cold is better) and increasing glucose content. Hypertonic (increased osmolality) solutions are also known to delay gastric emptying. More recent studies indicate many additional factors. Both dehydration and severe environmental conditions impair gastric emptying, but running at an intensity less than 75% VO[sub]2[/sub] increases gastric emptying.

Four factors can limit the amount of carbohydrate which can be used by muscles: gastric emptying, intestinal absorption, muscle glucose uptake, and oxidation. An increased sodium content will expedite the rate at which carbohydrate is absorbed, and vice versa. The rate of intestinal absorption of carbohydrate is more rapid from glucose polymer than from glucose solutions, and probably also the rates of electrolyte and water absorption. The fate of ingested carbohydrate is the same whether it is taken 3 hours before or 120 minutes after the start of exercise. Glucose is oxidized more rapidly than fructose. Fructose must first be converted to glucose by the liver. The intestinal absorption is also lower. Fructose solutions are also more likely to cause GI distress. The problem in determining the optimum carbohydrate solution is that the factors which expedite intestinal absorption (especially increased electrolyte and carbohydrate content) are also the factors which may retard the rate of gastric emptying, except for glucose polymers and starch solution.

Increasing the carbohydrate content of the solution beyond 6% begins to have a marked effect on gastric emptying. The gastric emptying of one drink is about 20 minutes. However, if the solutions are ingested repeatedly, so that the stomach is kept in a more distended state, than higher rates of gastric emptying can be achieved. So, for practical purposes, the rates of gastric emptying for water and for carbohydrate solutions at concentrations up to 10% are the same up to 70% max. But higher concentrations will significantly slow the rate.

An 18% carbohydrate solution ingested at a rate of 100 ml every 10 minutes at a gastric volume of 400 ml would provide the same results from a 7% solution ingested 100 ml every 10 minutes at a gastric volume of 200 ml. Thus, the rate of carbohydrate delivery, rather than water delivery, may be the more important factor. Ingestion of carbohydrate during prolonged exercise delays fatigue and enhances performance. The solution should be hypotonic with a salt content of up to 100 nmol/L.

Ingestion of glycerol or medium – or long – chain fatty acids are of no benefit; whereas, the ingestion of alcohol is contraindicated because it impairs liver glucose production and cannot be directly used as a fuel, having to be first changed to acetaldehyde in the liver, but even then it is an inferior fuel.

We may be talking past one another on this side trip. I grant that if you want water, and there is no water around, and you don’t mind spending your money on water, buy a bottle of water. My point is that there’s no good reason to do so aside from that, and that, yes, your educational system failed you because it let you get through it without putting your mental brakes on prior to making a fatuous statement such as:

If you can make such a blanket statement about both carbonation and sugar, you have not gained much from your training. Please, tell us where in your educational background you learned such “facts.” I won’t push the issue except to say that a good education would impart a healthy skepticism, caution about generalizations that may over-reach, and a more sophisticated view of what is “good” or “bad” for you, when it comes to many things, including food.