Know What to Drink for a Workout? You Might Be Surprised

what to drink for a workoutI’ll be honest — when I signed up for the USA Triathlon Level 1 Coaching Clinic this spring, I mostly thought I’d get a certification out of it. Maybe I’d glean some tips on putting training plans together, perhaps nab a few additional resources.

In some cases, I was correct. Swim mechanics? Running form? Bike maintenance? Sports psychology? All super important, of course, but much of what we covered reinforced what I knew. However — OH HOWEVER — when the sports nutrition session with QT2 Systems founder Jesse Kropelnicki began, I found myself not only taking pages of notes, but also questioning a number of things I thought I knew. I’ll touch on a lot of those nutrition lessons in the coming months, but the Kropelnicki’s thoughts on what to drink for a workout really blew my mind. Here’s why: his Ironman triathletes don’t race with water in their water bottles. Ever.

It’s sports drink. Always sports drink. And they train that way, too.

The reason is simple. If you’re focused on performance, one of the main goals with your nutrition should be to stabilize your blood sugar. During a workout or race, an athlete will generally lose 600 to 1800mg sodium per hour in their sweat (depending on the individual’s sweat rate and the sodium content in their sweat), according to Kropelnicki. And when you’re losing that much, you need to replace it quickly and as steadily as possible.

If you’re solely sipping on water, you’re just diluting what sodium you have left, whereas by drinking a sports drink with electrolytes (which I will never in my life say or type without picturing this), you’re replacing what you’re losing … therefore, keeping your blood sugar more stable and allowing you to keep on kicking butt.

So, the question is, what do you keep in your water bottle during a workout? —Kristen


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  1. Hi Kayla! A few sports drink brands that Jesse recommended (due to higher sodium content) were: PowerBar, Gu, Gatorade Endurance, F.E. EFS and Clif Shot. The ones listed here all have a sodium content of close to 200mg or more per serving — hope that helps!