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Nutrition Drinks

Nutrition drinks are not the same thing as sports or hydration beverages. Sport drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, help your body stay hydrated better than water, but do not help your muscles recover from exercise stress. That's where nutrition beverages come in play; designed to help your muscle repair damage from exercise and come back stronger.


Glucose, fructose, and maltodextrin are carbohydrates found in sport drinks, which also include potassium, magnesium, and sodium electrolytes to help with retaining salt in the body. Nutrient drinks usually have all of the ingredients that sports drink have, in addition to whey protein, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs to assist with muscle recovery.

After Workout Drink


Relatively concentrated in comparison to sport drinks, nutrition drinks deliver approximately 300 calories in a 16 oz. serving, with large amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Intended for consumption after workouts when the muscles are taxed and require nourishment to repair, nutrient drinks are not meant to be consumed during exercise because your body's ability to absorb is impaired from the active stress. When you consume a concentrated nutritional drink after a good workout, the nutrients go to the muscles to help it rebuild glycogen stores and repair damaged tissue.

Sports drink on the other hand can be used during exercise because they are optimized with a 7% solution that is just right for the stomach during exercise.

Not a Before Workout Drink

The content of nutrition drinks are composed of proteins and fats that are too heavy and nutrient dense to be used before exercise. It takes longer to digest and absorb the contents, so downing a dense nutrition beverage before exercise usually causes painful stomach cramps during and after exercise.

Repairs Muscles

Long distance running beats up the legs the most, causing micro tears to the muscles and severely depleting the glycogen stores. So, drink a carbohydrate and protein shake after the those long runs to replete the glycogen stores and repair muscles.

A Healthy Diet

However, for less intense exercises such as running short distance, easy swimming, or relaxed cycling, a nutrition drink may not be necessary. Healthy, ordinary food does just the trick. All you need is carbohydrate and protein from food sources such as a sandwich, fruits, hard-boiled eggs, and/or yogurt and nuts.

Nutrition shakes are ideal for those who cannot stomach solid food after a good workout and need a drink that is packed with the essential ingredients for a full recovery. Even better if you can use the drink in conjunction with foods that are rich in carbohydrates such as fruit, juice, bagel, or crackers to balance out the excess protein in the shake.

Read the Label

To find the right nutrition beverage for your needs, read the ingredient portions on the labels. You want a drink that has just the right mix of proteins and carbohydrates. The best products usually fall between 200-300 calories per serving.

The bottom line is that not all triathletes need nutrition beverages, although they are great to have during the times when solid food becomes too much to stomach after a good hard workout. The best plan is to drink sports drinks before and during exercise, and then nutrition drinks afterwards.

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