Consuming carbohydrates before, during and after exercise will maintain energy levels but liquid intake is as equally as important.
If you do not take on board enough fluids then dehydration will set in which dramatically affects sporting performance. Salts and other electrolytes are lost as a result of sweating and if these are not replaced then cramping will occur.
Water is a popular choice of liquid and whilst it is suitable for low intensity sports, it is not that effective for high intensity or endurance sports. If you train for more than an hour then use a sports drink, preferably one that is high in electrolytes. This type of drink will replace sodium and other nutrients lost during exercise and will prevent dehydration. It will also maintain your energy levels as well.
There are a wide variety of sports drinks on the market but if you are on a budget then consider making your own. For example, take a bottle of orange squash, dilute this with water and add a pinch of salt. This works equally as well as a sports drink and will help to maintain your sodium levels.
Ideally, you should ensure that you are properly hydrated before exercise by drinking water (or diluted fruit juice) during the day. Aim to drink at least 2 litres a day although you may find that you require as much as 4 litres!
Fruit juice, carbonated water, fruit and vegetables all contain water and can help to keep you hydrated but nothing beats good old plain water. It doesn’t matter whether it is tap or bottled as long as you consume enough of it.
Sports Nutrition Guide Index:
- Sports Nutrition Intro
- Are nutritional requirements the same for every sport?
- Nutrition and types of sports
- Good food choices for sport and exercise
- The importance of carbohydrates
- But what is ‘glycogen?’
- How much carbohydrate do I need?
- Fluid intake
- How much water is enough?
- Sports supplements