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You’re Probably Not Working Out Hard Enough to Actually Need that Gatorade

Water is all you need to replenish after a workout

(Jonny White)
smithsonian.com

Every year, there's a bet on the color of the Gatorade dumped by Super Bowl champions over their head coach. (Last night, orange won.) There's always plenty of extra juice on the sidelines of professional football games; while professional atheletes might need electrolyte-replenishing juice, the rest of us do not. According to a new investigation by the CBC show Marketplace, an investigative reporting program, pretty much no one actually needs sports drinks like Gatorade:

To test how many electrolytes are actually lost during exercise, Marketplace recruited a team of recreational runners and tested their blood before and after a 45-minute run. None of the runners depleted either their glucose or electrolyte levels enough to require a sports drink to replenish them. In many cases, electrolyte and glucose levels increased in the blood. The test revealed that they could have benefited from water alone.

For most people, says the CBC, all that drinking a sports drink after your workout does is undo the work you put in.

“In the scientific community, we generally don’t recommend sport drinks for anything less than 90 minutes, if you are exercising really intensely, if you are exercising in the heat, if you are exercising for a very long period of time.”

Wells says most of us are better off with water. “An average person like you, during a workout, you need to be drinking a lot of water; that’s pretty much all your body needs. That’s what your body needs for your muscles to work really, really well. That’s what your blood needs to circulate really well.”

So if your New Year's exercise resolution—spin class, a daily jog, a regular weightlifting regime—survived January, congratulations. Don't ruin it by dousing your digestive system in Gatorade after a relatively reasonable workout. 

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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