The best exercise drink is the one that tastes best. The main cause of fatigue during exercise lasting more than an hour is dehydration, so the more you drink when you exercise, particularly in hot weather, the longer you can exercise. You can't wait for thirst to signal that you are losing fluid. Thirst is a late sign of dehydration. You won't feel thirsty during exercise until you have lost between two and four pints, or two to four pounds.
Researchers in Australia showed that liking a drink is more important than how much salt or how much sugar is in a drink, and that it doesn't make any difference whether a drink is carbonated or not, or hot or cold (1). Many sports drinks are advertised to contain the right concentration of minerals and sugar for exercise. However, Dr. Carl Gisolphi of University of Iowa showed that fluids are absorbed from the intestines at a rate that is not affected by the concentration of minerals or sugar in the drink (2).
So the best exercise drink for you is the one that you like, because that's what you will drink the most. Sports drinks are no better than water and salted peanuts, or Coca Cola and pretzels. Any drink plus any food that contains salt is as effective as any sports drink to maintain endurance and prevent heat exhaustion.
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