Hydration is key to performance before, during and after training, and even more so when it comes to game time. Sports drinks have become a go-to source of ‘hydration with a kick’, for boosting energy. We share what you need to know about these energy drinks, what to avoid and how to make your own healthy DIY sports drinks.
BEHIND THE SCENES OF THAT ENERGY BOOST
Sports energy drinks are full of colourants and flavourants which means that instead of boosting your energy, they actually deplete it when the body tries to “correct” the influx of this artificial energy. Many sports drinks also contain large amounts of sugar which spike your blood sugar levels unnaturally. Sugar is necessary to support the body’s performance, to reduce the stress and manage the exhaustion your body undergoes during an intense training session or game. However, the right amount is necessary to ensure a healthy choice, so look for about six percent sugar solution as a healthy measure.
DO IT YOURSELF
DIY sports drinks not only allows you to create a sports drink jam-packed with natural energy and free from artificial ingredients, but also ensures you get all the nutrients you need to further boost and benefit your performance. In general, home-made sports drinks should include a form of sugar for the energy boost, water for the hydration element and salt as a source of electrolytes.
THE ‘HOW TO’
- Start with a carbohydrate– this is the sugar part that gives you the energy. An example would be cherry, pomegranate, apple or grape fruit juice diluted to roughly six percent sugar concentration. According to nutritionist Ian Craig, most fruit juices are around 15% sugar, so you would need to dilute this to about half. The sugar content should be around 60g per litre of liquid.
- Add your electrolyte– a choice of salt, a generous pinch of sea salt is a great option, or an electrolyte product from your local sports or nutrition store.
- Top up with glutamine powder– this is an amino acid (protein) which your body uses as fuel during exercise.
- Finish off with antioxidants– if the base of your sports drink is a fruit juice then you’re already covered here, as fruits and vegetables naturally contain antioxidants.
- Intense training may require added protein – whey powder is a protein supplement most easily digested during intense training and is often the easiest way to increase the protein content for a DIY sports drink on the go.
The Investec International Rugby Academy courses cover home-made sports drinks in the nutrition sessions. Join our next players and coaches courses to learn recipes for healthy, nutritious and delicious DIY energy drinks that will keep you at the top of your game.