Being aware of what you drink as an athlete

When playing sport at a high level, nutrition and hydration is paramount. This means you have to be particularly conscious of your diet and this involves both food and drink. Staying hydrated is key to ensuring that you are able to operate at peak performance, and there is a wide range of different drinks that offer other useful vitamins and nutrients geared towards optimum fitness and recovery. This article will look at what some of the best drinks for athletes are.

Playing soccer requires very high levels of overall fitness along with increased muscular and cardiovascular endurance. The bottom line as with most competitive sports, being quicker, faster and stronger than the opposition is what will give you the edge, and there’s no doubt that nutrition plays an important part in that.

Sports drinks

There is a whole range of sports drinks to choose from, but irrespective of which one you choose, they are all designed for rapid replacement of fluids, to increase the levels of glucose in your blood as well as replenishing our body with other nutrients that are lost when we sweat. The presence of glucose and electrolytes in sports drinks helps balance fluids, give instant energy and avoid muscle cramping and headaches. 

Coconut water has seen a spike in popularity amongst many athletes due to it’s high electrolyte content, as such it is particularly effective at eliminating muscle cramps. However, dedicated sports drinks such as Lucozade and its equivalents contain higher levels of sodium and glucose than coconut water, making them the better option for giving instant energy and replacing salts.

There is no substitute for water

Water still remains the number one drink when it comes to hydration. Deciding on which drink is best will depend on the individual and the intensity and duration of the workout. Experts agree that if someone is exercising for less than 60 minutes, water is the best choice for hydration. Drinking at least two cups of water about two hours before intense exercise will help to keep you hydrated as well as reducing the chances of developing cramp. During activity, drinking a small cup of water every 20 minutes will help to keep your muscles well hydrated. 

Keeping your water bottle clean

If you have a refrigerator water dispenser at home you should be careful if you are using it regularly to refill your sports bottle. Research shows that the dispenser spout can harbour a high number of bacteria colonies, so try to wash your sports bottle regularly and keep the mouth of your sports bottle away form the spout as this is one of the main culprits for the spread of bacteria.

Drinking protein shakes

Protein shakes are undoubtedly one of the most popular drinks amongst all athletes as it helps to build muscle mass as well as playing an important role in post exercise recovery by repairing muscles. While it’s entirely possible to get all the protein we need through the foods that we eat, drinking a protein shake is seen as a fast and convenient way to get protein into the body within 30 minutes post work out, which is believed to be the optimum time to aid and speed up recovery. another benefit is the ability to measure exactly the amount of protein that you are getting per shake. While protein powder can be costly, for many this is outweighed by the benefits.