Isotonic Drinks: Many people mistakenly understand that they can be taken regularly, just as an athlete does after intense training. But none of that. We have collected all the doubts and keys to these drinks.
Its origin dates back to the 1960s, in the USA, when the American nephrologist JR Cade devised a drink to increase the productivity of the players of his soccer team, Florida Gators.
In the second part of the matches, the doctor observed that his footballers had worse performance and decreased urine output.
A nephrologist invented it for a football team.
However, it was not up to the 90s when the boom of these drinks known as ‘sports drinks’ began. The isotonic growth came from a simple but straightforward generalization: “If they are taken by athletes and serve to replenish water, I can use them instead of water or other carbonated drinks and resemble an athlete.”
1. Taken as Water
But these drinks are not to be taken forever. They are only recommended in competition athletes in high-intensity sports training.
But what are isotonic drinks? Can I take them too even if I am not an athlete? Why are they supposed to be for high-competition sport only? And children? If my son plays games, can I give him one?
Elena Perez Montero, the nutritionist at the Hospital Universitario Quironsalud Madrid, answers this and other questions we need to know about this type of drink.
2. What Are Isotonic Drinks?
Isotonic drinks usually have:
- Rapidly absorbed carbohydrates (fructose, glucose, sucrose, and dextrose)
- Electrolytes (mineral salts), mainly sodium, potassium, chlorine, phosphorus, and magnesium.
They have the same concentration of compounds as blood.
“An isotonic drink is one that favors the absorption of water. For this to occur, the body must recognize it. Thus, this type of drink must have the same concentration of compounds in solution as our blood,” Perez Montero explains.
They do not contain stimulating substances such as caffeine or taurine, something that energy drinks do.
They are recommended for:
- Athletes in competition or with high-intensity sports training.
- Intense training with unfavorable weather.
I don’t know They are not recommended in:
- People with hypertension
- People with kidney disease.
3. The Sports Drink
Not all athletes take them. Many of them prefer to use water and fruit combinations or energy bars instead to get the benefits of an isotonic drink, adapting it to their needs.
It is recommended to take it if you want if the sports activity has been intense and prolonged, greater than one hour. For example, in severe and prolonged exercises, such as a marathon or a triathlon, they are recommended.
They are recommended when intense sports activity has lasted more than an hour.
The necessary amount varies depending on the person’s characteristics, the exercise, and the time, but usually, it is generally between 500-1000 ml.
If taken, the idea is to do it in small sips, continuously and not excessively cold.
Two things to keep in mind:
- Studies show that ingesting an isotonic drink in most sports practices under an hour, whether or not they are intense, does not report any benefit.
Eat fruit and water is much healthier after sport.
- If your training is intense and lasts over 60 minutes and can use isotonic drinks, there are other healthier options such as fruit and water.
“Isotonic drinks are sports drinks, but not all ‘sports drinks’ are isotonic. If we remove the characteristics that make the drink equal to our blood, in the end, we have a juice or soda, ” says the expert.
4. They Are Not a Soft Drink
A complete isotonic drink has fast-absorbing sugars, just like industrial juices do. This fact should be taken into account, although it is true that choosing an isotonic drink from time to time should not affect the health of a healthy person.
But if it is used as a regular drink and a substitute for water, carrying mineral salts such as sodium and potassium can affect our health:
- To the functioning of our kidneys.
- To the work of the heart.
- To the variation of the corporal liquids, producing, for example, edema in the extremities.
5. If I Have Stomach Pain and Diarrhea, Can I Take Them?
When we got sick from a virus that made the body ask us for water, the patient and family members were oriented to prepare the “Alkaline Lemonade” to avoid dehydration problems.
However, this drink’s taste is not entirely pleasant, and therefore, many people rejected it.
On the other hand, it emerged that the first isotonic drinks’ appearance was very similar to alkaline lemonade and began to replace it.
But this is a mistake since mineral salts’ needs in gastrointestinal processes are not the same as those of isotonic drinks. So it is better to resort to the formula of homemade alkaline lemonade or oral rehydration serums.
The needs of mineral salts in gastrointestinal processes are not those of these drinks.
If there is a risk of severe dehydration, because the patient does not tolerate lemonade or serums: common sense must prevail. If the pathology involves stomach pain, drinking an isotonic drink will not take away the pain.
6. Can Children Take Them?
Currently, many medical societies advise against isotonic drinks in children.
- Children and adolescents lose fewer mineral salts from sweating when exercising than an adult.
- If we give him a drink with mineral salts, especially sodium, that he has not lost, we are increasing the risk of hypertension in the future.
- Also, fast-absorbing sugars can increase the risk of obesity and overweight and tooth decay.
A study by a researcher from the School of Dentistry at Cardiff University (United Kingdom), published in 2016, concluded that children who took this type of drink, affectively, were at higher risk of obesity and tooth decay.
Mineral salts increase the risk of hypertension and childhood obesity.
You have to be very careful with the ‘sports drinks’ with intense colors, since many times, in sports celebrations, they are available to everyone and are the ones that children choose because of their attractiveness. The labeling should be reviewed.