Best Isotonic Drinks with Electrolytes for Athletes
There are literally thousands of products on the market specifically designed for athletes, however finding one product that will meet your every need is probably near impossible. This is a guide to help athletes find an isotonic drink that contains the electrolytes your body needs after a vigorous workout.
Before I provide my list of products that I have actually used, let’s identify and define some key phrases because not all products are created equal and so narrowing down our search will save you time and money.
The first term to define is electrolyte. This corresponds to sodium, potassium and other minerals in our bodies that are necessary for us to function. When a large amount of these are lost through exercising, our bodies must replenish them. This is done by our bodies creating more electrolytes through fuel sources such as water and food. The other method is replacing them with more electrolytes through special isotonic fluids the body can use and replenish its supply.
The next term, isotonic, literally means same pressure. When seeking out a product that will replace lost nutrients and electrolytes, focusing on how effectively it can be absorbed by the body is extremely important to recovery. When we exercise, salt, potassium, water and other types of electrolytes are lost through sweat and since they're very important to our muscle growth and recovery, it’s important to replace them as soon as possible. Our bodies absorb isotonic fluids much quicker and at higher levels than regular liquid. These types of liquids are the same pressure as our blood, sweat and tears and so the body recognizes it and processes much more nutrients much quicker.
The first product is called Isotonix OPC-3 by MarketAmerica. I have used this product for many years to help with Asthma and other issues but since I have been running almost daily, I have found a new use for it. It’s simple to use, just mix one capful of dry powder to 1 ounce of water or juice. This mixture has a sour taste to it which some find unappealing however mixing it with a bland juice helps balance the taste. After my long runs I generally will take two capfuls within an hour of completing my workout. It helps me reenergize after my long 7-10 mile runs when I would generally feel drained and would have to eat a ton of calories for a pick me up.
This product contains Grape Seed Extract which contain Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPC), Red Wine Extract, Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol), Bilberry Extract, and Citrus Extract which all combine to provide an extremely rich combination of antioxidants and electrolytes for full replenishment. It generally comes in a 90 day bottle for about $69.95 or about 23.31 per month however a 45 day supply can also be purchased. I like only having to take a few shots of this mixture combined with plenty of water to rehydrate.
Another great product I have used is Gatorade. Everyone knows and loves Gatorade and it’s been around for a long time. It’s also fairly inexpensive if you’re using it sparingly otherwise if you’re drinking one 20oz bottle per day for 5-6 days, then you’re probably spending between $21-30.00 per month. The taste is more sweet than OPC-3, however you must consume much more of it to have the same effects. I use this product off and on because I do enjoy the taste and I find that it does help replenish my electrolytes. Occasionally I have used it after my long run days or after a particular intense softball game.
Gatorade contains 110mg of Sodium and 30mg of Potassium in one 8 ounce serving where OPC-3 contains 95mg of Potassium in a 3.4g (one cap-full) serving. Gatorade contains 14g of sugar in the same serving size and OPC-3 contains 2g of sugar.
The next product I want to review is Powerade. This particular drink is almost as popular at Gatorade and may be more popular inEurope. I have used this product as well after intense workouts, but I didn’t find it to be as replenishing as the previous two mentioned. I felt like I had to consume twice as much to feel enough effects which could get expensive. I would use this product after a short intense workout because my body won’t need to replace as much electrolytes.
Powerade contains 55mg of Sodium, 30mg of Potassium, and 15g of sugar in one 8 ounce serving. The cost is close in comparison to Gatorade but a little cheaper. If you’re using it daily after hard workouts, then you’d be spending about the same amount as you would for Gatorade.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but I wanted to compare a highly effective off brand to two popular brands. This comparison probably sounds biased but I use what works and promote it for others to use. Don’t take my word for it, try these for yourself and compare. My only suggestion is that you use isotonic products after a workout lasting an hour or longer, otherwise your body won’t use these drinks to their fullest potential.
3.4grams or .118fl oz.
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