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It turns out their anti-inflammatory properties are a win for athletes.
Say you've spent few hours running around under the hot sun during a soccer game, or put in a hard session at the gym, and now you're thirsty. There's a good chance your go-to drink isn't water, but a high-calorie, brightly-colored sports drink packed with electrolytes and sugar. But is it the best thing for you?
Sure, sugar is one of the more digestible and portable form of carbohydrates—the simple fuel your muscles and body need to speed recovery during and after a heavy workout.
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But a downside to sports drinks is they primarily provide added sugar, which is the least nutritionally valuable. Plus, they’re usually packed with a lot of chemicals and flavorings that your body just doesn’t need.
One of the best alternatives is eating a banana. Bananas provide plenty of carbohydrates and can keep athletes going as well as sports drinks, while providing fiber, vitamins, and other things typically missing from processed sugar.
If you think you’ve heard this before — that’s because you may have. A 2012 study compared how bananas and sports drinks to plain water, and found that they were both more beneficial.
But a new study published in PLOS and covered by The New York Times, had a new surprising result. That study found that bananas actually were superior to sports drinks at helping athletes fight post-workout inflammation.
There is a downside, however: Eating bananas occasionally results in bloating. Ah, well, nothing is perfect.
Drink This 30 Minutes Before Exercise to Torch Fat, Says New Study
If you believe one of the most popular doctors on TikTok, the two best times to drink coffee every day (for the sake of alertness and cognitive function) are during the hours of 10am to noon and 2pm to 5pm, when your hormone cortisol isn't at its peak and you could really make the most of your caffeine jolt. But if you're a regular exerciser and you're looking to get the most of your workouts, specifically, a new study of all-male subjects published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests another time you should drink coffee: before you exercise. What's more—which is excellent news for coffee lovers—it should be strong coffee.
Read on for more about what the scientists say about the connection between your coffee and your fitness—and when exactly you should be drinking it. And if you're in the market for a great new fat-burning workout, read up on The Quick 10-Minute Workout That Melts Belly Fat, According to a Top Trainer.
You Should Start Adding Avocado to Your Smoothies&mdashHere's Why
This not-so-secret ingredient makes all the difference.
It&aposs widely known that the simple addition of avocado is an easy way to upgrade just about everything, including plain toast and otherwise lackluster salads, but today we&aposre here to talk about another, more stealthy use for this versatile fruit: your smoothies. Avocados are the secret ingredient for creamy smoothies that actually taste like the fruits and vegetables you&aposre using. The balance between creamy texture and clean flavors is actually a tough one to strike—just think about the usual suspects that add heft to a smoothie: bananas and peanut butter. Both ingredients are great in their own right, but there&aposs no denying that they are total smoothie scene-stealers, refusing to blend into the background.
With avocado in your smoothie, you get a creamy texture with a clean taste that won’t overpower the subtle, refreshing flavor of something like this Blueberry Mint Smoothie, for instance. If you have picky eaters to feed, the aforementioned blueberry smoothie will expertly hide the hint of green that avocados will usually give to whatever they are blended into. On the other hand, if you want to lean in with the "green machine" theme, try this shamelessly nutritious Avocado-Spinach Smoothie recipe instead.
If you are a more casual enjoyer of avocados and only have them around for the occasional guacamole, you can still enjoy an impromptu smoothie moment if you remember to plan just a little ahead. Simply scoop any unused avocado into a resealable plastic bag and pop it in the freezer. Being made of mostly fat, the avocado will keep fine in the freezer for a few months and will still be able to blend seamlessly into the future smoothie of your choice.
Avocados can also give real gravitas to your smoothie&aposs nutrition label. High in protein, monounsaturated fat, and an excellent source of fiber, you&aposll be guaranteed a snack that won&apost leave you hungry an hour later. And let&aposs talk about what they don&apost have: cholesterol, sodium, and trans fats. Bottom line: Avocados are a no-brainer for a brain-boosting, energy-giving smoothie upgrade.
Which Liquids Are Best?
For most outdoor activities, good old-fashioned tap water does the trick. If your activity lasts an hour or more, either fruit juice diluted with water or a sports drink will provide carbohydrates for energy plus minerals to replace lost electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium) in your sweat.
Sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, and All Sport can give you a needed energy boost during your activity. They are designed to rapidly replace fluids and to increase the sugar (glucose) circulating in your blood.
Read the label to determine which sports drink that is best for you. Ideally, it will provide around 14 grams of carbohydrates, 28 mg of potassium, and 100 mg of sodium per 8-ounce serving. The drink's carbohydrates should come from glucose, sucrose, and/or fructose -- all of which are easily and quickly absorbed. It shouldn't be carbonated, as the bubbles can lead to an upset stomach.
Most sports beverages are well-diluted and contain relatively few calories. If the flavor of a sports drink helps you drink up and maintain hydration, by all means enjoy. If you're worried about the added calories, try diluting your sports drink with water or pouring it into a thermos packed with ice.
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Your Mid-Morning "Vitamin" Water
So you're trying to get some extra vitamins into your day and you figure, "Why not perk up with a vitamin water?" Here's why: Get the regular version and you're taking in 19 grams of sugar. As the Center for Science in the Public Interest has put it, "vitamins + water + sugar + hype = soda - bubbles." Even if you choose the zero-calorie vitamin water, you're taking in sweeteners that can make sugar cravings worse. Plus, the vitamins you're getting from most types of vitamin water are ones you're probably already getting enough of, like B vitamins.
The Swap: Try kombucha
Kombucha has been around for more than 2,000 years and has health benefits that go beyond vitamins you're probably already getting. Most of us aren't getting enough healthy bacteria in our diets, unless you're chowing down on only kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Kombucha is a naturally fermented tea that is loaded with potential health benefits thanks to its high probiotic count. Getting more probiotics into your day can help improve your digestion, boost your immune system, and even improve your mood. Another bonus: Kombucha is high in a compound called glucaric acid, which may help prevent cancer.
How to incorporate coconut water into your daily routine
The other benefit of coconut water: It can be easily incorporated into a variety of healthy recipes. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing, so to speak:
1. Drink it straight up
If regular water feels too dull and you have a hard time hitting your daily hydration goal, consider switching things up with coconut water. “Coconut water has a delicious, almost sweet flavor,” Poon says. In other words, it makes hydration a bit more fun (and taste a bit better, too).
2. Add it to your smoothies
Are you tired of adding almond milk to your morning smoothies or acai bowls? Poon suggests giving coconut water a try for a boost of flavor and nutrients. It also makes a good swap for plant-based milks in coconut chia seed pudding.
3. Make popsicles
When the temperature starts to spike during the summer months, cool off with some coconut water popsicles. “Blend coconut water and fresh fruit and freeze [the mixture] to make natural and nutritious popsicles,” Poon says.
4. Turn it into ice cubes
If you’re feeling fancy, Poon suggests swapping your regular ice cubes and making your own out of coconut water. Then pop them into your favorite cocktail or mocktail for a refreshing twist. Tropical coconut sangria, anyone?
5. Mix it into your salad dressing
Yes, you can add coconut water to jazz up your salads, too. “Mix it with oil and spices to create a tropical-flavored salad dressing,” Poon says. Yum.
Speaking of other trendy foods, here’s why you should think twice about sea moss. And yes, a protein shake for breakfast can be a good idea&mdashif you make it the right way.
Better Choice: Sparkling Water
It gives you a little fizz without the calories or artificial sweeteners of soda. But watch out for flavored seltzers that have added sugar. And remember, sparkling water is different from club soda, which has sodium, and tonic water, which has sodium and sugar. A safe bet is to add your own flavor, like a squeeze of lemon or lime, to plain seltzer or sparkling water.
Making a Basic Concentrate
One of the most time-effective ways to ensure ready access to a natural electrolyte solution is to make a homemade concentrate. This way, you can add small amounts of this blended concentrate to plain water, as needed, rather than gathering and blending all the ingredients each time you're prepping for a workout.
Most blends usually contain a combination of sodium, sugar and citrus. If you include both baking soda and iodized salt, you can replace different forms of sodium that tend to be lost through perspiration. Lemon juice provides both potassium and magnesium, which the Cleveland Clinic lists, along with sodium, as crucial electrolytes.
Start by juicing at least a half-dozen lemons, rather than using artificial lemon juice. Add about half as much maple syrup or honey before blending in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. The combination of ingredients is likely to fizz, but stirring will settle the bubbles. Keep this concentrate in the fridge in a tightly capped jar.
If you have a crowd, all of the concentrate can go right into 1 gallon of plain water. Otherwise, mix 1 or 2 tablespoons of the concentrate into each 8-ounce serving of water and stir vigorously.
Do You Really Need to Load Up on Electrolytes When You Work Out?
Sports drinks are definitely tasty, but are they actually worth the hype?
Michael Jordan sure looks hot dripping beads of orange sports drink sweat, but just how much does gulping down a big ol' bottle of Gatorage put your workout into beast mode?
Before you slide your hard-earned dollars into the gym's neon liquid-filled vending machine, here&rsquos everything you need to know about the actual power of electrolytes.
What They Are
&ldquoElectrolytes are positively or negatively charged substances, like the minerals sodium and potassium, that conduct an electrical current in your body,&rdquo says Michael Bergeron, Ph.D., a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.
Since your body is basically one giant electrical system, these electrolytes do everything from help your muscles receive a signal from your brain to contract, to retain water and distribute it throughout your cells.
Are They Worth the Hype?
As you might have gathered from any sports drink commercial ever, electrolytes peace out of your body during a workout via your sweat, says Bergeron.
Someone exercising at an intense level can lose liters of sweat per hour and thousands of milligrams of the electrolyte sodium with it. He says this loss of sodium can make it tough for your body to retain the water you drink after sweating buckets, which means you could chug H2O without actually rehydrating. That sodium imbalance might lead to salt cravings and muscle cramping, so in that case, loading up on electrolytes could be helpful. However, in order to drip enough sweat to experience this kind of imbalance, you would have to be exercising at a highly athletic level&mdashas in two or more hours at a high-intensity.
For someone who works out at moderate intensity for an hour or less every day, maintaining a well-balanced diet and hydrating before a workout is enough to keep your electrolyte levels where they need to be, says Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., co-owner of SoHo Strength Lab and ProMix Nutrition.
If you feel woozy at the beginning of a workout, it&rsquos often because you&rsquore dehydrated or have low blood sugar, not from an electrolyte imbalance, says Matheny.
But if you're training for a marathon or triathlon, your electrolyte balance should be on your radar. &ldquoWhen you&rsquore doing intense exercise sessions almost every day and losing a lot of sweat every time, you might need to do a little extra to boost your electrolyte levels,&rdquo says Bergeron.
How to Boost Your Electrolyte Game
There&rsquos no way for you to measure your own sodium content, so if you&rsquore well-rested, well-hydrated, and well-fueled, but still cramp up or crave salt post-training sesh, Bergeron recommends mixing 1/2 tsp of salt into your sports drink. (Sounds gross, but he promises you won&rsquot even taste it.) You can also opt for a higher sodium sports drink (Pedialyte contains twice the sodium of Gatorade) or add a little extra salt to your diet, he says.
Since we tend to get enough salt in our lives (if not way more than we need, according to the FDA), someone who isn't training for an athletic event might experience a type of electrolyte imbalance caused by having too much sodium compared to potassium, says Matheny. With this type of imbalance you might experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as your body tries to get rid of the extra sodium, he says.
If you'd like to keep your levels in check, you can ensure your potassium is balanced post-workout by noshing on a banana or a serving of spinach.
Why Eating Bananas May Be Better Than a Sports Drink
Are you still sipping a sports drink to get your carbs and electrolytes during a long workout? You may be able to ditch the sports drink for fruit, more specifically, a banana. A new study shows that bananas have more going for them when it comes to replacing lost electrolytes and replenishing glycogen stores than commercial sports drinks – and they’re a lot less expensive.
Are Eating Bananas the New Sports “Drink?”
Bananas are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates, but can they compete with sports drinks for replacing lost carbs and electrolytes? Researchers at Appalachian State University’s performance lab in North Carolina put bananas to the test. Seasoned cyclists were asked to eat half of a banana every 15 minutes or drink a cup of 6% carbohydrate sports drink every 15 minutes during a 3-hour simulated road race. To see what effect each carb source had on performance and body physiology, they took blood samples from the cyclists to measure a variety of parameters including glucose levels and markers for inflammation. The results?
Cyclists that snacked on bananas performed as well during their intense cycling run as those who drank a sports drink. Their glucose levels were similar too. The researchers pointed out that munching on bananas during a long exercise session has advantages over drinking a sports drink. Like sports drinks, bananas are a good source of potassium, a mineral lost during intense exercise. They also contain natural antioxidants that could help to reduce muscle damage and soreness.
Other Benefits of Eating Bananas for Active People
Bananas are one of the best sources of vitamin B6, a vitamin that’s important for carbohydrate metabolism, and they’re a natural source of carbohydrates. A single banana supplies a fifth of a day’s requirement for vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin that helps to protect cells from damage, reduce inflammation and boost immunity. You won’t find artificial flavors or colors in a banana as you’ll find in some sports drinks. Bananas are a 100% natural carbohydrate and electrolyte source.
Most sports drinks come in plastic bottles where you have to worry about BPA in the plastic leaching out into the liquid. BPA has been linked with endocrine dysfunction and an increased risk of hormone-related cancers in animals. Bananas are also a good source of fiber, which most people don’t get enough of.
Bananas fall short in one area – sodium. Bananas only have a fraction of the sodium that most sports drinks do. If you exercise hard, especially on a hot day, you can lose a significant amount of sodium, and bananas aren’t ideal for replacing it. Eat bananas for their carbs and potassium, but sip water with a pinch of added salt to stay hydrated and replace sodium lost through sweating.
The Bottom Line?
Bananas are a natural source of energy, electrolytes, and antioxidants. This makes them a good replacement for a sports drink. If you choose to eat bananas during a workout to replace carbs and electrolytes, make sure you’re drinking water to stay hydrated and getting enough sodium by adding salt to your water. Next time you’re at the supermarket, skip the sports drink and stock up on bananas instead.
Top Natural Muscle Recovery Drinks After Workout
This is the age when people work out strenuously in order to remain fit as a fiddle. Working out is fine, but do you take proper care of your body after a workout?
Workouts can be anything ranging from running, walking, exercising and many more. Post your workout session, it is important to supplement your body with enough energy to replenish the energy you lost.
You must pump up your body with muscle recovery drinks that will help supply amino acids to the body in order to repair the minor muscle fibre tears that can occur during exercise. In this article we have listed the best post workout shakes for muscle recovery.
Muscle recovery drinks are helpful in providing essential protein and carbohydrates for the muscles. Consumption of these in liquid form will help the body to process these nutrients easily.
These natural and best recovery drinks after workout will help your body to counter the wear and tear that have happened to your muscles. Consuming these in liquid form is considered better than to eat anything in solid form.
Read this article to know about the best recovery drinks after workout.