The fitness and beverage industry has lead us to believe that sports drinks are the only way to healthily “refuel” after a workout. But is that actually true? Are sports drinks really all that healthy for you?
Some signs point to no. Take, for instance, their color. I have never seen a natural drink that is electrically yellow or vibrantly purple. Or, the fact that many sports drinks contain additives like high fructose corn syrup or brominated vegetable oil (an ingredient whose side effects include neurological disorders, reduced fertility, and altered thyroid hormones). Not to mention the even longer list of ingredients, many we can’t even pronounce, let alone know what they do to our bodies.
Some… drink for thought? Ditch the “-ade” and give yourself something that truly aids your body in recovering after a workout.
It’s a no-brainer: “water” is in this delicious fruit’s name! In addition to an extremely high water content that facilitates replenishment of fluid lost during exercise, watermelon also replenishes electrolytes that are lost through perspiration and contains enough carbohydrate to rebuild glycogen stores.
2. Coconut Water
Rather than replacing your post-workout sports drink with regular water, try coconut water. It’s high in potassium, which helps balance electrolytes and fluid lost through sweat. I will warn you, though; coconut water is not cheap! Save it for special occasions when you’ve worked out for more than an hour and truly need it.
3. Low-Fat Milk with Cacao Powder
Milk may be a perfect workout recovery drink because it has a little of everything—protein, fat, and carbohydrate. As we all (should) know, milk also contains calcium, an electrolyte we lose during exercise. When mixed with cacao powder, this beverage is as an ample source of protein for muscle recovery, without the added sugar of store-bought chocolate milk. The health benefits of cacao powder extend far beyond its low sugar content, offering a rich supply of antioxidants and dietary fiber as well.
4. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Juice
Fresh pressed juice bars are popping up everywhere. Luckily for health nuts and gym rats, this craze has nutritional value. They say to aim for five fruits and vegetables a day, but no one said you had to eat them in their whole form. Drinking fruits and vegetables in juice form allows the digestive system to easily absorb all that vitamin and mineral goodness without having to fuss over fiber. Quite the refreshing treat!
5. Bananas or Raisins
If drinking to refuel isn’t your thing, you can always resort to solid foods like bananas or raisins. Containing both fiber and easily digestible forms of carbohydrates, bananas and raisins have been shown to be equally as effective at replenishing electrolytes as energy drinks after a hard workout.