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The Weight Loss Centre

Sports Drinks & Stomach Cramps


By Gabe Mirkin, M.D.


sports drinkA study from the Netherlands shows that sugar in sports drinks slows absorption and increases stomach cramping in running races shorter than 12 miles. (International Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 26, 2005). Fluids pass through your stomach and are absorbed almost immediately in your intestines. Exercise slows fluid passage from the stomach but does not affect intestinal absorption. Sugar added to drinks can delay stomach emptying to increase risk for cramps.

Another study from the University of Utah, reported in the same journal, shows that taking a salty drink just before exercise increases endurance. Dehydration is the most common cause of fatigue during exercise in fit men and women. This study used salted drinks or placebo (unsalted) drinks with two groups of cyclists, and demonstrated a significant improvement in an endurance time trial as well as better maintenance of blood volume in the group that had the salted drinks.

Anything that increases blood volume should increase endurance. Taking in fluid before exercising increases blood volume, and using salty drinks increases blood volume more than pure water. But a major problem with salty drinks is that they usually taste awful. You can accomplish the same results by drinking water, soda or any other beverage you like and eat a handful of salted peanuts or other salty food before and during your endurance events.

Dr. Gabe Mirkin has been a radio talk show host for 25 years and practicing physician for more than 40 years; he is board certified in four specialties, including sports medicine. Read or listen to hundreds of his fitness and health reports -- and the Good Food Book -- at www.DrMirkin.com






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