July 1, 2009 -- Question: Are sports drinks better for male athletes than water or other fluids?
Answer: Sports drinks are a great source of electrolytes; they're also a really good source of carbohydrates. If you're doing exercise that's just 30 minutes or an hour, water is sufficient. The time you need sports drinks is if you're going to be losing a lot of sweat -- because your sweat's not just water, your sweat's also made up of a lot of sodium, a lot of electrolytes. So if you're losing a lot of sweat, whether it's outside in the heat or even inside, but for an extended endurance exercise, then you're gonna need to put that sports drink back in to not only replenish the fluid but also replenish those electrolytes.
You don't need those extra carbohydrates especially if weight is a concern. You don't need the extra sugary carbohydrates unless you're gonna be doing more than 90 minutes of cardio. So if you're going just up to 60 minutes, up to even 90 minutes, opt for a no-sugar sports drink. There's a lot of different brands on the market now that are sports drinks but without sugar -- that's what you need if all you're losing is a lot of sweat. But once you're starting to go more than 90 minutes, you need to replace your electrolytes and those sugars, so go for a [sugared] sports drink then.
The other time that can be really good for guys is if you're having a really hard time taking in enough calories to gain weight. What I'll have people do then is: don't drink a lot of water to hydrate, actually hydrate yourself with the sports drinks. So that's an easy way for us to add more calories to your day.