6 healthier alternatives to sports drinks, according to dietitians

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The key components of sports drinks are water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes.
INSIDER consulted two registered dietitians to get recommendations for sports drink alternatives.
Options like coconut water have many of the same hydrating properties of sports drinks without added ingredients.
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Despite what sports drink ads might make you think, you probably don’t need to be chugging down a bottle of supercharged neon liquid during your average workout. Sports drinks’ three key components (water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes) can be found elsewhere — and without the added calories and sugar. 

INSIDER consulted two registered dietitians to get their recommendations for sports drink alternatives. Here’s what they had to say:

Chocolate milk is this dietitian’s go-to post-workout recovery drink
Flickr/USDAgov

Natalie Rizzo, a registered dietitian in New York City and author of “The No-Brainer Nutrition Guide For Every Runner,” listed chocolate milk as a great sports drink alternative due to its 3-to-1 carb-to-protein ratio, which, she said, “helps replace carbohydrate stores and repair worn down muscles.”

The childhood favorite also provides key electrolytes including calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium for refueling after a workout. Plus, Rizzo added, “research suggests that drinking fat-free milk after exercise replenishes lost electrolytes and rehydrates better than a sports drink or water.”

Orange juice has electrolytes and antioxidants.
Jeremy Keith/Flickr

Jonathan Valdez, owner of Genki Nutrition and the spokesperson for New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommended drinking orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

“Not only does it have electrolytes like sports drinks,” he said, “but it also has concentrated antioxidants such as hesperidin that may fight off high blood pressure and cognitive decline.” 

Coconut water naturally has some of the key components found in sports drinks.
Valentina_G/Shutterstock

All three of the key components in sports drinks are found naturally in coconut water. This hydrating beverage has potassium (an electrolyte), natural sugars, and water, Rizzo explained.

“The natural sugars help keep your energy levels high for exercise that lasts longer than an hour, and research points to the fact that it may be just as hydrating and cause less stomach distress than sports drinks,” she said.

If you’re exercising in the heat or for a long period of time, Rizzo recommends adding a dash of salt to coconut water to help replenish salt lost in sweat.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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