Fluid replacement and use of sports drinks during competitions

THE road to success goes beyond players technical abilities.
It takes into account prevailing weather conditions, fatigue, food and fluids which players use before, during and after competition.

There is a lot of concern by different teams when challenges involve adequate fluid replacement and the choice of fluids during competitions.

The subject of fluid intake in sport is on going and many young sportsmen, women and trainers strive to adopt best practices.
Sportsmen and women are always looking for something that will give them extra energy and also reduce fatigue.
It is important that the fluid that is chosen to meet the physical demands of the body in terms of rehydration and provision of energy is given a good consideration.
This makes it important for sports personalities to know when, what, and how various sports drinks should be taken.
A lot of athletes have to be informed when it is appropriate to take sports drinks and water in order to meet the demands of the body during hot weather conditions.
Taking in of sports drinks at a wrong time will affect the athlete’s performance during competition.
It is not only team medics but various managers and coaches who need to appreciate the importance of good hydration.
Exercises that last one hour or less do not need the use of sports drinks, especially when the nutritional goals of the athlete are well met.
Water alone is an excellent fluid to use to replace the lost fluids in many situations, and it still remains the gold standard.
In training, it is important to have water breaks in order to effectively fight dehydration associated with exercise.
Most sports drinks are expensive and very few sports men and teams in our country are able to afford them. There is still a lot of debate by different schools of thought on the overall benefits of sports drinks in endurance sports.
Medical research has shown that sports drinks play a significant role in providing energy and also replacing the lost fluids and electrolytes. In sports like football, fatigue is seen in players towards the end of the match.
This is the reason injuries and goals are scored or conceded towards the end of the match b e c a u s e p l a y e r s c a n n o t concentrate the way they do at the beginning of the match.
The players can also not fight muscle fatigue which occurs as a result of physical activity especially in hot conditions.
When I looked at energy drinks and Red Bull to be specific, it was established that caffeine is the main component which makes it popular among sports personalities.
The other components of Red Bull are an amino acid called taurine whose proportion in this drink does not make it have any significant effect on exercise.
The other major components are glucoronolactone, sodium citrate, inositol and the B group vitamins and whose proportions are not enough to cause any significant effects.
Apparently, Red Bull has continued to fly around dressing rooms of teams.
Ideal sports drinks are made with a desirable proportion of sugar for easy absorption of fluids.
It also has good amounts of electrolytes like sodium which is lost through sweat and also potassium.
The other important electrolyte is chloride.
You need to have a good amount of sodium for the body tissues to function properly.
Not only are sports drinks able to address dehydration and electrolyte imbalance but also provides the much needed energy during competition.
Energy drinks with very high sugar content are not the best to use, because of the tendency of reducing gastric or stomach emptying. The high sugar content in some of these drinks also reduces the absorption of fluids into the body system.
The best time to take in the sports drink is not before the beginning of exercise.
If sports drinks are taken before exercise it will stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin which will deplete the circulating blood sugar (glucose).
Instead of the athlete feeling energetic after taking in the sports drink, they will feel weak and this will have a negative effect on their performance.
It is not just a matter of taking in sports drinks to get the benefits, but you have to know when you have to take in such a drink and also consider the sugar content of that particular drink.
For questions and comments write to: Dr Kabungo Joseph
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