Isotonic drinks: what are they for?
This is not new to everyone, hydration is the foundation of performance, and knowing how to manage water and electrolyte balance is critical to getting the most out of your abilities in both training and competition.
Isotonic drinks are becoming more and more popular in the sports world because they promise superior hydration and better performance during exercise.
Not to be confused with energy drinks: Isotonic drinks contain the right amount of minerals and the right amount of carbohydrates.
What is an isotonic drink?
During physical activity, our body uses glucose, amino acids and even fat. We often forget that we are losing a lot of water and minerals. The minerals responsible for the body’s electrolyte and acid-base balance are important compounds on which many organic functions depend, including muscle contraction and relaxation.
Even mild dehydration significantly reduces physical performance and destroys the hope of a complete and effective recovery.
What’s in an isotonic drink
A properly formulated isotonic drink should promote rapid and optimal fluid absorption: therefore, it should contain carbohydrates, but it should also be isotonic.
“Isotonic” means that its osmolarity is close to that of blood plasma. Therefore, its concentration in sugar, vitamins and minerals is the same.
An isotonic exercise drink contains carbohydrates (glucose, fructose, maltdextrin, dextrose, etc.), minerals (sodium, potassium, calcium), antioxidants and group B vitamins, essential for energy metabolism.
There are also several types of “tonic” drinks:
- The hypotonic drink : useful in hot weather, its absorption is slower than water and it allows more sustained hydration over time. It compensates more for water losses than sugar losses
- The hypertonic drink : very concentrated in minerals, it is difficult to absorb and its digestion is longer. It compensates for sugar losses more than water losses.
- Isotonic drink has a particle concentration similar to that of our blood. It compensates for water loss as well as carbohydrate loss.
The benefits of isotonic drinks
The main benefit of an isotonic drink, is its ability to replace energy and mineral losses in a very short period of time. It leaves the stomach quickly and its absorption is proportionately very fast, allowing continuous hydration without overloading the digestive system.
The mechanism of hydration
During physical exertion we lose water and electrolytes in our sweat, and our glycogen stores (which the body uses in the form of glucose) are depleted. If we are not able to make up for these losses during the effort, performance is reduced on the one hand, but muscle recovery can also be compromised .
The isotonic drink is intended to compensate for water and electrolyte losses more effectively than water alone.
Endurance athletes are the most vulnerable to dehydration and mineral loss through sweating. Indeed, the body can lose up to one liter of water per hour, sometimes up to three liters under extreme conditions.
To be able to make the effort last and recover optimally, it is therefore recommended to drink regularly, and more precisely: 1 large sip of isotonic drink every 10 minutes, and this throughout the effort.
Few studies recommend isotonic drinks during short efforts such as sprinting, athletic strength or agility events because the water losses are much lower, and also because we can eat normally before training.
This is not the case with endurance sports, where nutrition must be adapted for maximum digestive comfort during a race. For example, marathon runners are not advised to eat fruits or high-fiber carbohydrates before a race, as they can overload and inhibit bowel function. Energy gels, bars and drinks are the only sources of energy they can safely consume.
Sports of strength, explosiveness and medium resistance should rather be oriented towards solid and complete nutrition before training , then an exercise drink loaded with BCAA during the ‘training.
Intermittent exercise, while less risky in terms of hydration than long endurance, may require the use of isotonic drinks. These could be team sports like football or rugby, or functional sports like CrossFit ( For athletes we recommend turanabol kaufen ).
In several studies conducted on football and rugby players, researchers have been able to demonstrate that isotonic drinks improve performance during intermittent exercise, alternating between intense exercise and rest phases.
Isotonic drinks are nutritional supplements designed to optimize long-term endurance training to replenish minerals, carbohydrates, and water-soluble vitamins lost in sweat.
They provide quick hydration without overloading the digestive system and are recommended for athletes such as marathon runners, triathletes, cyclists, swimmers, as well as football players and crossfit professionals.