When you're parched and in need of some serious hydration after an intense activity like running, biking, or weight training, it's easy to reach for the nearest quencher, but be cautious: many can actually do more harm than good, inevitably reversing all the hard work you just put in. Here, the 5 worst picks, plus smarter substitutions.
1. Processed "sports milks"
These packaged products are loaded with highly processed proteins, sweeteners, and poor quality oils. Instead, make your own by mixing an additive-free protein powder, cacao powder, water, and a touch of maple syrup. This easy combination of protein and carbs will help you replenish your glycogen stores after you hit the gym.
You may think you can get soda but it is a really bad idea. soda, is concentrated with simple sugars that your body is going to absorb right away. It's quick-acting energy, but it's going to cause you to crash, and has no nutritional benefits. Instead of reaching for cola, we recommend sipping sparkling water to rehydrate and to get your carbonation fix.
3. Sugary sports drinks
Despite what the label might suggest, you really don't need to guzzle one of these drinks after exercising. You might be consuming more calories than you burned. If you've done a particularly intense workout, you may need to replenish electrolytes, the nutrients (such as potassium and sodium) that our body uses to maintain balance, and which can help prevent fatigue and muscle cramping.
Your adrenaline is going, your heart is pumping already, so it's not good to add caffeine to the mix. For a healthier boost, we recommend adding cacao to a smoothie or drinking chocolate milk. A little chocolate goes a long way in perking you up.