When discussing what an athlete should drink, it is important to state from the beginning that the best thing anyone – athletes or otherwise – can drink for hydration is water. Hydration is essential for athletic performance, and accordingly, whatever drink an athlete goes for, a high water content and no dehydrating substances should be the top priority.
Synergy Science, a company specializing in the relatively recent health product hydrogen water, say that one of the reasons this product has become so successful is in the addition of pure hydrogen molecules (hydrogen is normally bound to oxygen in water). These molecules are much smaller than water molecules and so can be absorbed more efficiently. In other words, hydrogen water provides a more efficient form of hydration, which we know is the most important thing for an athlete.
The case of hydrogen water well-illustrates that, often, it is what is added to the water which can truly optimize the substance. As well as hydration, there are several other things an athlete will look for in a drink. A speedy replenishment of energy is one valued attribute of certain sport drinks, and the importance of electrolytes for sport has been well documented.
What Does an Athlete Need?
Of course, not all athletes are doing the same kind of sport, which complicates further the question of what they should drink. For example, a weightlifter needs immediate energy and strength to partake in their sport to the best of their ability; for a long-distance runner, the slow release of energy and a more gradual and continual hydration is what is needed.
Generally speaking, the types of sports an athlete can be divided into are aerobic and strength type sports. Running is a good example of aerobic exercise, and weightlifting would be a good example of strength exercise. The difference between these two needs to be borne in mind when choosing an optimal method of hydration for any sport.
Top Drinks for Athletes
Here follows then some of the top drinks consumed by athletes, and why each is so popular:
Isotonic Sports Drinks
As the name suggests, these types of drinks are specifically made for athletes. Their benefit lies in the bespoke mix of substances that can aid in sporting performance. These drinks provide electrolytes (including sodium), potassium for a slow energy release and even carbohydrates, which also offers a more gradual release of energy. These drinks are specially designed to allow the body to more efficiently replace water lost through sweat and urine.
Homemade juice is one of the most common liquids you will find in the flasks around the necks of serious long-distance runners. These drinks are diluted down to offer maximum hydration, and they also provide several energy-boosting minerals and other useful substances found in fruit juice. They are not actually entirely sugar free (sugar isn’t necessarily bad anyway), it is just that they don’t contain, like some fruit juice products, any added sugar.
Green tea, of course, is not something an athlete will consume while they are doing sport, but it is a popular choice as a pre-exercise drink. Green tea contains no calories and a whole bunch of useful antioxidants. Accordingly, green tea ismore for the general fitness an athlete needs to keep up.
If you are an athlete, then any of these drinks are likely to do you a lot of good (not forgetting the aforementioned hydrogen water too). However, to truly optimize your hydration program, consider the sport you are doing, what you need, and then pick the best product to help you get it.