1. What does ‘Isotonic” mean?
The term isotonic means that the fluid has the same concentration of ‘solutes’ (i.e. psecitons) as that found in your blood and cells. This means that when you ingest it, other fluid does not shift into your gut to dilute it; instead, the fluid in the isotonic drink just readily crosses over into the bloodstream.
2. What is in a sports drink such as POWERADE ION4?
Most sports drinks comprise three main ingredients, electrolytes, carbohydrates, and water.
POWERADE ION4 contains four electrolytes – Sodium, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium – lost in sweat. Sodium and Potassium help you to retain fluid so you stay hydrated, as well as maintaining your blood volume, sweat rate and muscle blood flow. Without these electrolytes, your urinary output increases (ie. water passes straight through) and you won’t remain hydrated.
There is also evidence that consuming sodium-containing sport drinks, stops your thirst mechanism from being switched off prematurely. Although we often look for drinks to “quench our thirst”, you also want to use your thirst to tell you whether you still need to drink more.
Calcium and magnesium, also found in sweat, help athletes meet their daily requirements of these electrolytes or minerals.
Carbohydrates = energy for muscles
Carbohydrate is the main fuel source for muscles when working at a moderate to high intensity (i.e. at jogging pace or faster), and late in prolonged endurance exercise. It is also the preferred fuel source for the brain4. We have a limited capacity to store carbohydrate (glucose or glycogen) in our body, so those who exercise regularly will require additional supplies from their diet to maintain adequate stores. Studies have shown that providing carbohydrate during exercise results in better exercise performance in sessions of as little as one hour of very high intensity; for sessions of intermittent high intensity exercise, such as football and rugby and for more prolonged (greater than 90 mins) endurance exercise such as long distance running and triathlons
POWERADE ION4 provides additional carbohydrates (sucrose & maltodextrin) to provide the energy that muscles need when working out.
Adding carbohydrate to a fluid has been shown to assist fluid absorption from the gut and intestine (provided the concentration of carbohydrate is not too high.
The amount of carbohydrate in POWERADE ION4 is designed to be appropriate for the body to absorb in exercise.
3. Why drink a sports drink, as opposed to water?
The two main perspectives which differentiate a sports drink from water alone are the additional supply of fuel (carbohydrates) and electrolytes with the hydration. Also several studies have provided evidence that people will drink more of a flavoured drink than an unflavoured one. Hence, a refreshing, palatable drink such as POWERADE ION4 will generally be consumed more readily, thereby further enhancing total fluid intake and reducing the risk of dehydration. POWERADE ION4 comes in a great range of flavours, all of which make it easier for you to keep drinking the amount you need to stay hydrated.
4.What fluids should be consumed?
Most importantly, the drink of choice should be one that you enjoy the flavour of during exercise. Studies have shown that flavoured drinks tend to be consumed more than unflavoured ones6. We also know that some sodium (salt) in your fluid increases the retention of the fluid consumed compared to water, and when fluid intakes may not match losses it's extremely important to utilise all of what's consumed as effectively as possible. Considering the duration of many team sports, carbohydrate is also an important consideration for maintaining muscle fuel supplies all the way through. Hence, consuming a sports drink such as POWERADE ION4 has the combined advantages of fluid, taste, sodium and carbohydrate all in a neat package. One word of caution, never wash your mouthguard out with a sports drink or beverage other than water so you do not damage your tooth enamel.
5. What about the temperature of the fluid?
For maximal absorption from the stomach, the optimal temperature of a fluid is "cool" - around 15°C.
However, there is recent evidence that consuming cooler drinks (4-10°C) can help reduce the body's temperature, as well as increasing the total amount of fluid consumed in hot conditions8, which is beneficial when playing in the heat.
6. How can POWERADE help me before sport?
Drinking sports drinks, such as POWERADE ION4, before intense exercise helps to ensure that you begin in a well hydrated and well fuelled state. This can be particularly useful if you find it difficult to eat, or find you need many bathroom stops prior to exercising. Starting exercise well hydrated is vital; leaving it until you are on the field or track may be too late. This is particularly crucial for longer duration exercise, or activity undertaken in hot, humid conditions, and even for people whose primary exercise is actually manual labour. Sports drinks like POWERADE can also help you start with plenty of energy.
7. How do I make sure that I start my exercise optimally hydrated?
Unfortunately drinking one litre of fluid half an hour before starting your session isn’t going to rehydrate you effectively. Instead, this should be undertaken over a period of at least several hours, with around 400-600 ml in the 2hours before exercise. A good hint is to set up a sports hydration strategy that suits your lifestyle. Athletes need to ensure they continue their fluid intake consistently in between training sessions.
If you are working, ensure that you have access to fluids at hand.
Some suggestions include:
- Set a timer on your computer/watch to remind you to drink something every hour.
- Take a drink bottle to work/uni/school and keep it in sight all the time. If you work outdoors, keep it in a chilly bin to keep the fluid cool.
- Set up a dispenser in your workplace so you always have chilled drinks on hand.
- Always have something to drink when you have a meal, as many nutrients in meals can help promote adequate hydration2.
- Keep an eye on your urine output throughout the day. Aim to keep it reasonably clear in colour most of the day (although this doesn't count if you've just recently consumed a large volume of fluid in one hit).
- Fluids can include water, milk, juice, sports drinks, cordial, soft drinks, tea and coffee and can all be “counted” towards total fluid intakes over the day, although you need to consider the impact of their energy content as well.
8. How can POWERADE help me during sport?
Regular replacement of fluid is the main consideration during any sports event. During exercise, POWERADE ION4 is designed for optimal provision of fluid and fuel. It is recommended to use POWERADE ION4 during training sessions before using it in competition, in order to determine your own individual stomach (gastrointestinal) comfort. You may be able to train your gut to tolerate more fluid if you build your fluid intake gradually. This can be in the form of plain water for shorter bouts of exercise, but for longer events the fluid should also include small amounts of carbohydrate, like that found in POWERADE ION4.
In the early 1900’s, it was believed that people shouldn’t drink during exercise as it was bad for you. Not drinking was meant to “toughen you up.” However, research has shown that drinking during many forms of exercise is actually good for you. Obviously, in many sports and forms of exercise, it’s not practical to drink – such as a 100m sprint, a judo bout, or during an Olympic rowing or kayaking race! If you’re only exercising at a low to moderate intensity for a relatively short time (less than 20-30 minutes), especially in cool weather, then there is no need to take on fluid during the session as you should be sufficiently hydrated before-hand.
9. How can POWERADE help me after sport?
POWERADE ION4 is ideal for fast replenishment of fluid and fuel to muscles to get you ready for the next training session. This is particularly important for those doing more than one training session per day. It is well recognised that even though sweat rates vary considerably between individuals, voluntary fluid intakes during exercise generally only meet around 50% of fluid needs. Hence, most people finish exercise dehydrated.
10. Why is rehydrating important?
Rehydrating is important for many reasons, but basically it’s to get the body’s system back into shape as quickly as possible after exercise. If you don’t rehydrate effectively, you can suffer the ongoing effects of dehydration for many hours after exercise – including tiredness, the inability to concentrate, and dull headaches. For those who exercise at least once a day, the failure to rehydrate generally means they may start the next exercise session in a dehydrated state.
11. What should I drink to rehydrate?
The choice of what you drink partly depends on the duration of exercise, the environmental conditions, and personal preference. In exercise of 60 minutes or longer, especially in the heat, there is good evidence supporting the use of a sports energy drink (such as POWERADE ION4) over water due to both the electrolytes and the carbohydrate in the drink. If you're not a good drinker, then having fluid with some flavour in it will help you drink more. However, if you're exercising for less than an hour and in cool conditions, then water may be adequate.
12. When should I rehydrate?
Rehydration should start as soon as practical after exercise, with the overall goal to consume 150 % of the fluid you lost during the session in the next few hours. For example, if you lost 1 kg (1000g) mass during the exercise session, you need to drink 1.5L (1500ml) in the next one to two hours. The reason you drink more than what you sweated is to account for the fact that you continue sweating even when you stop exercising (at least until the body’s core temperature returns to normal), and because inevitably some of this volume will end up as urine. It is better to drink to a plan over a period of time, rather than in a haphazard way or all in one go!
Planning is especially important in older adults whom, it is now known, have a reduced thirst sensitivity when dehydrated. As most of us already know the ‘one hit’ drinking plan will generally only result in more of the fluid going into the toilet, not to mention making you feel extremely bloated and uncomfortable!
BUT, it doesn’t stop there – continue to drink regularly throughout the day, rather than just at meals, in order to maintain hydration levels. If you drank well during the exercise session and didn’t lose any weight, don’t forget that you still need to drink afterwards as well, as you’ll continue sweating for a while.
13. How much should I drink?
Actual fuel and fluid requirements are individual and can vary enormously, making it futile to state an "average" sweat rate. Fluid should only be consumed at a rate which is just below, or matches, your sweat rate and no more. The aim is to drink enough to keep fluid losses to under 2 % of body weight.
As a general rule, the gut can tolerate up to 60 g of carbohydrate and up to 1 L of fluid per hour of exercise. The more dehydrated you become, the less your gut will tolerate so start taking in fluid as soon as you can once you start. It is imperative that you trial your fluid and food intake first during training sessions (especially in long sessions) so that you understand your own stomach capacity and level of tolerance and comfort. This later aspect can be trained to increase to a degree, so push the boundary a little and see what you can achieve comfortably.
14. If I do endurance sports, what should I drink?
For most endurance events, performance can be limited both by dehydration and by insufficient fuel supplies. If you have the opportunity to use a carbohydrate gel, water is the optimal solution to drink with them as otherwise you'll end up with too concentrated a solution in your stomach. If practicality or gastrointestinal tolerance means eating isn't possible, then using a sports drink such as POWERADE ION4 will help to achieve both fuel and fluid needs at the same time. For those with high sweat rates or particularly long events, it may be necessary to add some extra salt to help ensure good retention and uptake of the fluid into the body. This could be done via food if possible, adding a teaspoon of salt to each water bottle, or using an electrolyte powder or ‘salt' capsule. (If you are considering adding salt to your drinks, consult a sports dietitian first to ascertain the best amount of salt for your specific purposes.)
If the weather is hot, try to get access to some cool fluids wherever possible in order to help keep your core body temperature from rising too much. If you are competing in ultra-endurance events, "flavour fatigue" can occur. It can be useful to vary your fluid and food intake to ensure variations in taste so that you maintain a consistent drive to drink and eat. This is a great time to make use of the delicious varied flavours of POWERADE ION4!
15. But won’t being lighter in my weight help with my performance?
In some sports, having a higher power/weight ratio is potentially beneficial for performance - such as hilly cycling or running events. Therefore, it might make sense to think that a small amount of dehydration (and therefore a lighter weight) could benefit performance more than the negative impact the dehydration has on you. However, when put to the test, this doesn't appear to hold true, especially in warmer climates. A similar argument can be made when considering the potential impact on race time of stopping to get a drink at a drink station, even when conditions are milder in temperature.
16. What happens if I drink too much?
For more information, refer to the section on Hyponatraemia