Notorious for their high levels of sugar, sports drinks offer a special value to fitness enthusiasts that may have sent mixed signals to the general public over the years. While some sport drink manufacturing companies may have shifted their products toward a broader audience, the benefits of electrolyte-rich sports formulas are clear for any athlete who uses them regularly.

Think of sports drinks as liquid supplements. They are intended to boost your body’s performance during exercise, and used correctly, they get the job done more efficiently than some other forms of supplementation.

Before Exercise

Many sports drink formulas are high in carbohydrates and sodium. These may sound like concerning additions if you’re looking for a healthy diet, but if you’re looking to fuel up for a workout, they can prove vital. While added carbs help ensure carbohydrate availability, sodium helps you retain and rebalance water levels in the body. Ultimately, sports nutrition is about keeping your body’s fluids and nutrients in check, and going into a workout with a balanced body helps prevent illness and injury during your exercise.

During Exercise

Throughout your workout, you’re losing fluids through sweat and expending energy by way of carbohydrates. Sipping on a sports drink during exercise helps replenish those expenditures, allowing you to work out for longer periods of time. In fact, many sports nutrition supplements are manufactured with this in mind. Try it for yourself. Complete one work out with a sports drink handy and another with just water. See how you feel after each, and you may find your workouts last longer with a few extra carbs in your system.

After Exercise

Most notably, sports drinks are used to aid athletes in their recovery. For the same reason sports drinks help you extend your length of exercise, they are also great for helping you replenish vital fluids, electrolytes, and nutrients after a workout. Electrolytes are often referred to when talking about sports nutrition, but what we are really talking about are sodium, potassium, and other nutrients that help your body rehydrate and retain water. These are essential after a workout to bring your body’s systems back into balance and ensure a speedy and fruitful recovery.