Who doesn't want to drip colorful beverages while slam dunking from 15 feet out? Sure, sports drinks have their place (in sports) but if you're guzzling Gatorade, or something similar, in the gym, you may just be drinking away your progress.
By Robert Fure
If you're heading to the gym frequently, odds are you want to be bigger, faster, or smaller and stronger. When trying to gain weight, you need to up your caloric consumption, so knock yourself out with the sports drinks. However, if you want to cut some weight down, drinking energizing drinks during your workout may be wiping out some of the progress you'd otherwise be making.
To understand why, we first must understand what's happening when you work out to lose weight. Your body runs on calories, whether they come from food or liquids. When your stomach breaks all this stuff down, it converts it into glycogen, which could be considered your fuel reserves. When you start working out, your body first depletes these reserves. Then, with nothing else to burn, your body switches over to fat cells as food. That's the goal. Now, in the middle of a workout, when the glycogen is gone and your body wants to burn fat, if you pop open a bottle of Gatorade (depending on the size you're going to drink between 125 and 400 calories) and flood the system, you give your body two options – work to break down the fat for fuel or just grab all that newly acquired and easily expendable fuel.
Imagine your body as a locomotive. You've got a wood furnace full and burning. You want to throw all the wood behind you in there to lighten the load. As you're chugging along and its time to throw some wood on the fire, instead of taking from the pile behind you, you cut down trees along the way and toss them in. Does the pile of lumber behind you ever get any smaller? Nope. That's what's happening in your body when you consume calories during your workout – you ignore the fat deposits and use the immediately available calories for food. Drinking 250 calories during your workout cancels out the number of calories you would have burned in 30-40 minutes of aerobic activity. All that time spent sweating to the oldies and you've got nothing to show for it on the scales.
In general, you should avoid calorie filled fruit waters, sports drinks, or anything that is going to put calories into your body while you're working out, for optimal results. There really is no need for these kinds of beverages on your weight loss diet, though if you choose to drink them, count those calories in your daily diet. Like I mentioned, if you're trying to gain weight, or want to help maintain hydration and performance during athletic activity, these drinks are ok. Water is often your best bet in any case and to burn the most fat during a workout, go in on an empty stomach and keep working out on an empty stomach.