“Better than water” is a claim that has never sat well with me.
For no other reason than it is a fucking lie.
But when you are trying to lose weight, sports drinks like Lucozade are among the first things you are told you “need” if you want to move some body fat.
And they make a pretty good case for it, too.
I mean, we’ve all seen the commercials with the top athlete wiping his brow, nodding at his drink approvingly to confirm that his legs would have undoubtedly buckled under the pressure of that 20 minute light cardio workout had he not brought his bottle of superhero-ade.
And you should do the same. Because science.
Because sports drinks like Lucozade are better than water.
But the facts? Not so much.
Indeed, these drinks can actually make your weight loss diet a whole lot harder to stick to. So today I’m going to show you why sports drinks aren’t as necessary as you’ve been told.
Better Than Water?
Let’s cut to the chase – no substance is better than water for hydrating the body.
Not Lucozade, not Gatorade, not that fucking detox drink your resident Facebook expert keeps trying to push on you, which claims to be formulated using Himalayan rose petals and spliced with real Unicorn tears.
Heck, water is damn near perfect for us.
But hey, in an era where bullshit supplements like Juice Plus claim to be “as good as real fruit and vegetables”, I guess it’s a free-for-all when it comes to taking your money.
The idea that sports drinks are better than water stems from the fact that participants are likely to drink more of a sports drink during exercise, compared to just drinking water.
And more fluid means more hydration.
But it does not mean “better”.
It is not doing a better job, you are just drinking more of it.
And the reason you are drinking more of it?
It’s full of fucking sugar.
Heck, tell me I should eat three cups of broccoli per day and it seems like a mighty challenge. Tell me I should eat three cups of McDonald’s milkshake per day and I won’t hear you because I’ll already have my head in the cup.
The Weight Loss Myth
Your overall calorie intake is responsible for governing weight loss.
Not a sports drink or a protein shake.
If you are eating less than you are burning you will drop weight, and despite how much every self-proclaimed “expert” wants to over-complicate the process so that you’ll buy their latest detox pack, that’s the truth.
So piling in 67 grams of carbohydrates while you train probably isn’t the best idea.
While that energy may be handy to an endurance athlete, the benefits don’t necessarily transfer over to someone who has a goal of burning calories in the gym, as they’re putting them in faster than they are taking them out.
What’s perhaps worse is that we are giving this stuff to our kids before they train, too. As mentioned in this post by my pal Stevie HIIT.
If you are not training for over 2hrs then you are not training long enough to “need” mid-workout carbohydrates. And if you are performing HIIT as your primary training principle, it just doesn’t make sense to top up your carbohydrate reserves during training – we are trying to run them down during training, igniting “the afterburn effect” during the post-workout recovery period.
That’s not to say carbohydrates – or even sugar – are “bad”, of course.
Most of you know that I consume in excess of 400g carbs on a daily basis. I live in Carb City. However, not everybody else has my metabolism or training volume.
So when on a weight loss diet, the issues begin when trying to make those 266 calories fit your daily total.
Most people class these sports drinks as a training supplement or just as a regular drink, and as such they don’t even include them in their daily calorie consumption.
As a result, weight loss generally stagnates or even goes in the opposite direction.
Making It Work
Flexible dieting is my thing.
You can make any food work for you as long as you consume it in moderation.
And when it comes to sports drinks like Lucozade, I suggest one of the following approaches:
- make it fit you daily calories
- drink water during your session, and drink this after your session
You may be thinking “that second suggestion came out of left field, what’s the reasoning behind that?”
Well, after your session your body will make better use of carbohydrates, as they’ll become a major player in spiking your insulin levels and supporting lean muscle growth.
And while the optimal source of post-workout sugar is in the form of dextrose, as found in Haribo Gummy Bears, the sugars found in Lucozade would still serve a purpose.
Plus if you simply enjoyed drinking it and it helped you to stick to your routine, that’s an added benefit.
Of course, choosing this option means you must also adhere to option 1 – your overall calorie intake will determine weight loss results.
So, is Lucozade better than water? No.
Is it the devil? No.
It’s just a drink.
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