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Energy Drinks vs Sports Drinks

Should an athlete be drinking a sports drink or energy drink, or neither?

A sports drink is formulated for use by athletes during sport, and contains carbohydrate, electrolytes in the form of sodium and potassium, and sometimes magnesium. Sports drinks are designed to be taken pre-exercise and during exercise.

red bull energy drink energy drink - "this is good for you"

An energy drink is very different, it has a higher concentration of carbohydrate, which can often upset the gut if taken pre-exercise. It also contains other micro-nutrients such as taurine, caffeine, a whole range of vitamins, and they use that as their marketing ploy - "this is good for you", which in fact most of it's not very useful at all, and the high concentration of carbohydrate is probably the worst part of it. So they're not very bad, they're just not the best to be taking pre-exercise.

This is an edited transcript of part of an interview with Clare Wood, the Topend Sports' dietitian, conducted in 2018 by the WA Government's Department of Sports and Recreation as part of their 'Ask an Expert' series. The interview covers areas of what and when you should eat before a game, plus a discussion of energy drinks and supplements for athletes.

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Sports Nutrition Extra

Athlete nutrition isn't just about weight loss. It is important to fuel the body optimally before, during and after exercise, as well as to stay hydrated. Supplements may also be required.

Weight Loss Extra

There are no simple answers. You should keep a healthy weight, consider one of these diets, though exercise is also important.

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