What are the Best Sports Drinks In The UK?

Fitness beautiful woman drinking water and sweating after exercising on summer hot day in beach female athlete after work out. An example of sports nutrition.
Sports drinks help us rehydrate and regenerate after intense periods of exercise. Copyright: magiceyes / 123RF Stock Photo

The Current State Of The Market For The Best Sports Drinks in the UK

Well, to be honest the choice is overwhelming and perhaps a better question might do they do us any good ? They are in truth better than water simply because they actually have salts and highly beneficial nutrients in them, including carbohydrates and protein for energy and muscle building. A sport drink is certainly more than just hydration but it appears to be only beneficial after 90 minutes of exercise.

It’s fair to say that the sport drink really comes into its own when we are doing long-term exercise, usually over 90 minutes (just to repeat). Water works effectively when we are replacing lost fluid because of sweating. If not we lose sporting performance through dehydration. Too high a level of dehydration leads to loss of consciousness and even death which seems extreme news but its true.

If you are involved in endurance events, then a sports drink helps if it contains between 4 to 8% readily metabolised carbohydrate. Why ? the muscles are able to draw on the ingested energy to keep going having very often used up our body’s internal reserves.

If the sports drink contains sodium, then better for you because the tonicity of the beverage impacts the rate at which such minerals and carbohydrates are absorbed by the blood stream. Generally speaking, anyone involved in really intense sport like a marathon runner should be drinking the appropriate amount of an isotonic sports drink rather than just plain drinking water.

If you’ve ever wondered, most sports drinks are classified according to this measure of tonicity. An isotonic sports drink is one in which the concentration of dissolved components is the same as the body’s own fluids. These are easily absorbed and are usually drunk before and during the endurance exercise. The other key feature is that the osmotic pressure as it is known and exerted by the drink is countered by that of the blood stream. There is no pressure exerted so no movement of water into or out of the gut in the process.

Hypotonic beverages are ones where the concentration of solutes i.e. particles dissolved in the liquid are lower than that of the blood stream. These are often consumed after a workout. Hypertonic beverages are ones where the dissolved solutes are higher than the concentration in the blood stream.

You might also see caffeine as one of the ingredients. Its role based on solid EFSA claims is to boost both mental power and physical exercise.

The best sports drinks of 2017 in the UK

I’m partisan because of my product development involvement with Lucozade Sport. It comes in just the ready-to-drink form and is available in still orange, raspberry or lemon. A 500ml serve provides 140 calories with 32g of carbohydrate. It is still fairly sweet but that has always been its characteristic signature. Note, the caffeine content !

Lucozade Sport is currently the official drink of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and of course the UK’s FA Premier League. Not a bad collection of sponsors frankly ! The whole idea behind the formulation is rapid hydration and delivery of energy.

A classic competitor product has always been Isostar which comes as a powder in a 425g tub. The whole makes 5 litres of product and a 500ml serving contains 160 calories with 38.5g of carbohydrate. Isostar makes great play of the Activator Complex which is a mix of caffeine with taurine and vitamin C.

Gatorade is probably ranking as the world’s best-selling sports beverages. There are two flavours; orange and lemon. A 500ml serve contains 125 calories with 30g carbohydrate. It’s never been overtly sweet which appeals to many. Remember, after lots of intense exercise, flavour is paramount in keeping the product palatable and enjoyable when you are plainly knackered.



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