The Right Replenishment for Athletes

High-intensity endurance exercise depletes the body of electrolytes, fluid and fuel (carbohydrates). But with so many sports nutrition products on the market, which one(s) should you choose for your specific sport or activity?

Sports Drinks

Research shows sports drinks can delay feelings of fatigue by replenishing carbohydrates, fluid and electrolytes (mainly sodium) when consumed before, during and after activities lasting longer than 30 minutes. If exercising less than 30 minutes, water is the best choice. Sports drinks are also beneficial during stop-and-go activities – such as basketball, tennis, soccer or hockey – to maintain fluid and energy levels for optimal athletic performance.

The key is finding a drink with the right ingredients for optimal recovery. You’ll need a drink with about 14 grams of carbohydrate per eight ounces of fluid, and look for ones that have a combination of carbohydrate sources (e.g. sucrose, glucose, dextrose), which is more easily absorbed for energy. A drink with its sole carbohydrate source as fructose or galactose is not absorbed as easily and may cause stomach discomfort. Look for a drink with around 100 mg sodium per eight ounces.

There’s one drink you can find in any supermarket near you…but it’s not on the sports drink aisle. It’s chocolate milk, and it’s nature’s sports drink.  Here’s why: it naturally has the right combination of carbohydrates, water, and electrolytes to help you refuel, recover and rehydrate after exercise.  Emerging research in both adult athletes and high school athletes has demonstrated that chocolate milk post-exercise may help reduce muscle damage and improve muscle recovery – which may help the body perform better during its next workout.

Sports Bars

A quick source of energy, sports bars work best as a snack before or after physical activity. Sports bars can be a rich source of vitamins and minerals, in addition to carbohydrates and protein. However, they do not provide fluid for your workout. Make sure to enjoy plenty of water with your bar of choice.

When it comes to calories, carbs and protein, here are somethings to consider:

  • Choose a bar based on your caloric requirementsas they can range from 120 to 300 calories per bar. The longer and more intense your workout, the more calories you will need from carbohydrates and protein.
  • Make sure that when choosing a higher carbohydrates bar that it is not high from added fibers.
  • Consider the amount of carbohydrate in the bar.Choose a bar that provides 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate before or after a prolonged workout.
  • Look for bars with six to 20 grams of protein from sources such as whey, casein, soy and/or egg if you are not eating enough protein during the day.
Check out this Video to Learn More about Student Athlete Nutrition from Sports Dietician Mandy Tyler


Learn more about chocolate milk as an exercise recovery beverage.