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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On Sports Drinks: HoneyMaxx


 

Do you live in the GTA? If you do, I feel sorry for you (I feel sorry for myself too, but I can deal with it). It's hot out. Grossly hot. Stupid hot (why weather why?). Mainly due to the humidity but regardless, it doesn't make for the greatest running weather. So what do you do when it's blisteringly hot out and you have to get your workout in? Well, the key, as always, is to stay hydrated. The human body is comprised upwards of 60- 70% water in grown adults, more so in young people. And humans sweat to stay cool; although there is great variability between individuals, humans can lose up to 2 liters of sweat per hour of very intense exercise, or one liter during moderate exercise. This only worsens during hot weather and can be compounded by the fact that sweat can evaporate so fast that people think that they aren't actually sweating. Then they keel over due to dehydration and heat exhaustion. 

So hydrating yourself while you workout is a must. But what a lot of people fail to realize is that sweat has a lot more to it than just water. You can drink all the water you want but if you don't hydrate properly, your performance is still going to suffer. Through the course of your workout you'll lose not just water, but you'll have expended your sugar reserves (glycogen), as well, a lot of your "salts" (electrolytes) will have been lost through sweat. Someone was smart enough to realize that if you added sugar and salt to water, you could get a boost in performance- thus Gatorade was formed. This Florida-based sports drink is heavily credited as being the first major sports drink on the market (in North America at any rate). It would soon lead to the revolution of sports drinks we have today- different sweeteners being used, different electrolyte profiles, protein content, calories, etc, etc. 
Sport Drinks
Why are there so many of them though? There must be a single, best drink out on the market, shouldn't there? Well, no, not really. With there being so much variability between individuals there can't be just one that works for everyone. One of the main reasons is because of the science of the sugars that each sports drink uses. If you've ever chugged a Gatorade then tried to go for a run, I'm sure you felt it- the feeling of being bloated, sluggish, or suddenly getting cramps when you KNOW keeping hydrated prevents cramps (that's part of it but not the whole story-more on that another time). That feeling of being bloated is because of the sugar content. Sugars delay gastric emptying and cause those gassy, bloated feeling stomachs. One of the main culprits is high fructose modified corn syrup. The same sweetener that is in everything you eat these days is by far the worst form of sugar for you. It causes you to be extra gassy and instead of being converted into glycogen like most sugar molecules, it is preferentially converted into fat. 
Fructose and Glycogen Pathway- SCIENCE!
  
 That is why so many other sports drinks exist. They use alternate sweeteners that are "easier" to digest and more efficient at giving you energy (glycogen is your main source of energy for any activity over 65% VO2max). That is why you'll see things like maltodextrin, sucrose, brown rice sugar, etc, most of which are usually just glucose polymers or different glucose molecules. Some are easier to digest than others, but again it relies heavily on the individual's ability to break down certain molecules and use them as an energy source. Where a lot of sports drinks fail is when it comes to their electrolyte profile. Most sports drinks seem to get at least two things right: Potassium and Sodium- these two ions are crucial for electrical stimulus and nerve firing in your body and they are easily lost through sweat. However, there are two crucial ones that Gatorade and Powerade neglect- Magnesium which is crucial for muscle and nerve function (producing energy), and Calcium which has its most important role intracellularly causing muscles to contract (if you can find one with chloride in there the better- you need chlorine to balance out your nerves and muscles during impulse firing). Having a good profile of all four (or five) of these electrolytes is hugely important to overall health and to maintain peak performance during strenuous exercise.

In short, the best sports drink is one that is going to sit well in your stomach (so as not to make you feel bloated and crampy), provides a suitable carbohydrate profile to keep you glycogen reserves up, and has an adequate profile of the four/five main electrolytes. Somewhere in vicinity of 100mg Sodium, 50-60mg Potassium & Calcium and 100mg Magnesium would constitute the electrolyte profile of a very well-rounded sports drink. The one that I would recommend trying is HoneyMaxx.
HoneyMaxx

HoneyMaxx is unique in that it is the only sports drink on the market that uses honey as its base sweetener (mixed with maltodextrin). Honey is sweetened by a multitude of sugars including glucose, fructose, maltose and sucrose. You might be thinking, "Hey! You said sugars were gassy and bad and fructose was the worst of all! What gives?" And you'd be right. But remember, this is all-natural fructose- untampered by modification processes. So even though it gets converted to fat faster than any other sugar, it doesn't come with any of the chemical baggage associated with the corn processing. And the make-up of honey is such that it isn't so dependent on any one carbohydrate source for its sweetness. Rather, it has a wider profile of sugars in lesser individual quantities which means it sits a lot nicer in your stomach. The sugar profile allows things to be broken down more easily and efficiently which causes less strain to the gut which means less cramps and gastrointestinal problems for you on your run. For those diabetics looking to get into shape or if you are worried about drinks that raise your blood sugars too much- especailly for children growing up these days, HoneyMaxx is a great alternative. HoneyMaxx's sugar profile alters gastric emptying and helps decrease the blood sugar hit thus altering the insulin response. It is more of a time-released formula to keep you going for the long haul.
 On top of that, Honey Maxx has a great electrolyte profile. 
HoneyMaxxIt has the four main crucial electrolytes, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium, in effective quantities. Compared to the original Gatorade mix:

Nutritional value per serving
Serving size 20 US fluid ounces (590 ml)
Energy 50 kcal (210 kJ)
Carbohydrates 14
- Sugars 10
- Dietary fiber 0
Fat 0
Protein 0
Potassium 30 mg (1%)
Sodium 5 mg (0%)

Now, to be fair, Gatorade has changed quite a bit in the past two years. Since the 80s, Gatorade had been using that high fructose modified corn syrup as their main sweetener in their sports drinks. In 2010 they went back to a cane sugar base because "it's what the customers like" and they've upgraded their product line to include pre, during, and post drink formulations to include a little bit better performance. But what a lot of the larger companies fail to do is ensure the electrolyte profile is well rounded as well as taking into account the sugars used within their drink. Gatorade seems to be half way there, and some of the other sports drinks seem to be looking like they are fairly good, but I have yet to come across anything that is as complete, sits as well and tastes as good as the new HoneyMaxx drink. 

But again, that's my opinion. I'm sure you all have different ones. And as always, I'd love to hear them! Let me know in the comments section, or e-mail me about your experiences with some of the sports drinks; what are your favourite and if you'd like me to look at one in particular that you want to know more about. If you're interested in trying Honey Maxx just swing by the Runners Mark store, we just got some free samples of their two flavors Lemon Lime and Orange, and we'd love some input as to what you think of it.

~E

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