Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Do sports / energy drinks enhance individual performance?

Image of Military health personnel wearing face mask discussing food options. Click to open a larger version of the image. Army 1st Lt. Tanner James (left), a dietetic intern at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, consults with a colleague about a special meal for Major League Baseball’s opening day (Photo by: Bernard Little, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center).

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Sports drinks claim that they "increase performance," "rehydrate," and "refuel." What does this mean and should you include them as part of your work out?

What do sports drinks have in them?

Sports drinks contain electrolytes and carbohydrates (energy or fuel source). Carbohydrates replace the energy used to fuel your workout. Dextrose and high-fructose corn syrup are two commonly used energy sources.

Are all sports drinks the same?

Many energy sports drinks are available, however the energy source used for sports drinks varies. For example, some contain dextrose, a rapid source of fuel, while others use high-fructose corn syrup, which fuels muscles more slowly than dextrose. The cost of sports drinks can also vary with some being more expensive than others based on the cost of ingredients (high-fructose corn syrup is cheaper to produce than dextrose). Absorption rates of sports drinks is also different, dextrose has two glucose molecules, while high fructose corn syrup consists of glucose and fructose. Muscles absorb glucose more quickly than fructose. So if you are looking to fuel more quickly you will want to choose a beverage that is made primarily of dextrose.

Can sports drink increase your performance?

When it comes to "increased performance," there is no agreement on the definition. However, the use of sports drinks as fuel during exercise has been associated with performing an activity for a longer period of time.

When to include sports drinks...

Sports drinks aim to fuel the exercising muscle. However, not all exercise calls for drinking an energy-containing sports drink. You should critically analyze your exercise to ensure it meets the recommendations for adding energy containing sports drink. Different types of exercise require different amounts of energy replenishment. For example, intense exercise (an exercise level that makes it hard to carry on a conversation) lasting longer than one hour calls for ingesting, eating, or drinking 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour.

Additionally, endurance exercise (an exercise level of breathing hard but still being able to have a conversation) lasting greater than one hour also increases your need for energy replenishment. Exercise lasting less than one hour does not typically indicate a need for an energy-containing sports drink. Keep in mind that excess sports drink consumption can lead to weight gain.

Here are sports drink recommendations:

Exercise Time

Amount of Carbohydrate

Less than 1 hour

0 grams

Intense Exercise: 1 hour or longer

30 to 60 grams per hour

Endurance Exercise: 1-2 hours

30 grams per hour

Endurance Exercise: 2-3 hours

60 grams per hour

Sports drinks can aid in recovery after both intense or endurance exercise when used correctly. The next time you reach for a sports drink, make sure that drink is going to help you meet your performance goals; understand the amount and intensity of your exercise; read the sports drink label; identify the source of energy (dextrose versus corn syrup); identify how much energy (carbohydrates) it contains.

Making a smart choice will ensure you get the energy you need to enhance your performance.

For more information about diet and exercise, call your local military medical treatment facility's Nutrition Services Department.

You also may be interested in...

Healthy Living, One Bite At A Time

Article Around MHS
4/26/2022
Plate of food

One of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle is nutrition and diet. The food you eat is arguably the most important part toward healthy living, also it shapes how you feel and perform.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness

Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Nurse Powerlifts Her Way to Winner's Podium

Article
4/19/2022
U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Holly Vickers competed in the United States Powerlifting Association’s Virginia Beach Classic on March 26, 2022, taking home the top spot for her weight class. Photo used with permission from DVXT Images. (Photo: Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Public Affairs)

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Holly Vickers competed in the United States Powerlifting Association’s Virginia Beach Classic on March 26, 2022, taking home the top spot for her weight class.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness

It’s not a new year’s resolution – it’s National Nutrition Month

Article Around MHS
4/8/2022
Military personnel holding papers

The 60th Medical Group Nutritional Medicine outpatient nutrition clinic and Health Promotion Services have partnered together for multiple events across base highlighting March as National Nutrition Month.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness

Brain-Boosting Meal Plans Help Service Members with TBI

Article
3/30/2022
During the NICoE intensive outpatient program (IOP), staff nutritionist Ruth Clark teaches hands-on classes in the on-site patient kitchen. (Photo: Tahira Hayes (Ctr), NICoE/WRNMMC, NSA Bethesda)

Research has shown that dietary changes may help relieve symptoms that might complicate recovery from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

It’s True – Carrots (and Other Vegetables) Can Help You See in the Dark

Article
3/4/2022
Each color in fruits and vegetables indicates an abundance of specific nutrients.

Have you ever heard that carrots are good for your eyes, or that they can help you see in the dark? It’s true – carrots are rich in the compound beta carotene, which your body uses to make a form of vitamin A that helps your eyes adjust in the dark. A shortage of vitamin A can cause a host of health problems, including blindness.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention | Vision Center of Excellence

Caring for Recruits' Injuries is Key to Success at Basic Training

Article
2/23/2022
U.S. Marines wait for instruction from their Senior Drill Instructor after concluding a motivational run at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, on March 11, 2021.

Injuries at bootcamp can end a military career before it starts. That’s why trainers and drill instructors take countless precautions to ensure trainees stay fit and healthy.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Readiness Capabilities

The Chief of the Army Dental Corps Talks Dental Health & Readiness

Article
2/22/2022
The Army’s top dentist talks about what service members should keep in mind about their dental health.

Here’s what the Army’s top dentist thinks service members should keep in mind about their dental health.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | TRICARE Dental Care

Enjoy Your Super Bowl Snacks with a Side of Food Safety

Article
2/11/2022
Military personnel grilling food

While millions watch NFL players battle it out in the Super Bowl, the real MVPs on Sunday will be chicken wings—more than 1 billion will be consumed before, during and after the game! Whether you bake, roast, fry or order in your chicken wings, don’t forget the four food safety steps that night.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Heart Health Month 2022

Video
2/11/2022
Heart Health Month 2022

Love letter from your heart. Happy Heart Health Month!

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit

Women’s Heart Attacks Symptoms Can Differ from Men’s: Know the Signs

Article
2/11/2022
Signs and symptoms of a heart attack can differ between women and men. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 quickly.

Doctors say women sometimes fail to recognize their unique warnings signs for heart problems.

Recommended Content:

Heart Health Toolkit | Total Force Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Heart Health

Don't Fumble Food Safety on Super Bowl Sunday

Article
2/10/2022
Marine with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit participate in a football tournament in Spain.

Here are some USDA food safety tips to enjoy a safe Super Bowl Sunday.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Why Today’s ‘Gen Z’ is at Risk for Boot Camp Injuries

Article
2/8/2022
Military personnel during boot camp

Today’s military recruits are more likely than ever to sustain a serious injury at their initial military training. Here’re some tips for how to prepare before shipping out.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Readiness Capabilities

How a Dietitian Can Help You Lose Weight and Maintain Readiness

Article
1/31/2022
Military personnel posing for a picture with a banana

Working with a professional dietitian or nutritionist can help people reach and maintain their weight management goals safely and with positive, long-term results.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

A Healthy Mind and Body: The Psychological Aspects Weight Loss

Article
1/27/2022
Marines with 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, participate in a regimental run to celebrate St. Barbara’s Day at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Jan. 13.

It’s essential to dispel the belief that weight loss is a reflection of willpower or discipline – basically, that you can’t lose weight because you don’t want to or you’re not trying hard enough.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Weight Management for Lasting Health

The 'BodPod' Measures Body Fat and Fat-Free Mass

Article
1/27/2022
Meagan Loughanne, a health educator at Aberdeen Proving Ground Army Wellness Center, Maryland, conducts a BodPod assessment on Sgt. Abdel P. Moluh. This simple and effective assessment provides clients with an accurate measurement of their body fat percentage, fat-free mass and fat mass in pounds. Based on the client’s goals, the health educator will provide tailored education and coaching.

The BodPod is an egg-shaped machine that will give a detailed analysis of your body composition in five minutes, including measuring your fat mass, your fat-free mass, including blood, organs, and muscle.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Health Tools
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 9

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.