Think before you drink

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT

If you walk into any gym these days, you are bound to find a counter or cooler that sells one form or another of post-workout hydration. After a hard training session, it is easy to grab a Gatorade or similar drink, thinking this is the most prudent choice to replenish your bodily fluids. However, you may unknowingly be doing your body a great disservice.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, fluids should be replaced every 15 minutes during heavy exercise to avoid dehydration. The type of replacement, however, is dictated largely by the intensity of the exercise being performed. For prolonged exercise, or exercise engaged in during extreme temperatures, sports drinks can optimally restore the body’s delicate balance of electrolytes, such as potassium, sodium and magnesium. When these levels plummet, the body is placed at a higher risk of muscle cramping and injury.

While that does paint a positive picture for serious athletes, there is a downside to over-consuming sports drinks, especially in situations where they are not warranted, such as during casual exercise or worse, just because you are thirsty! Most sports drinks contain at least as much sugar as soda, a simple carbohydrate which turns from friend to foe for the average consumer. Taking in an excess of carbohydrates at one time can cause insulin spikes in the blood, ultimately leading to fat storage, which is the antithesis of why we exercise in the first place!

If you enjoy a good workout, reward yourself with a cold refreshing bottle of water. You will be amply replenishing your body in a safe way, without adding unnecessary ingredients. For those times when you find yourself panting halfway through an outdoor boot camp class in mid-August, by all means, reach for the electrolyte-replacement beverage! Either way, your body will thank you!