What are Isotonic Drinks and How Can You Include them in Your Diet

On many occasions, people tend to confuse isotonic drinks and sports drinks. However, they both have different characteristics that we definitely recommend getting to know. Especially if you want to include these types of drinks in your regular diet.
What are Isotonic Drinks and How Can You Include them in Your Diet

Last update: 28 December, 2018

Isotonic drinks are compounds or formulas that athletes usually consume to favor the recovery of electrolytes and ensure good hydration.

What are isotonic drinks?

These food supplements have very specific characteristics and compounds. Their main goal is to properly hydrate the person who drinks them.

When someone works out, they need to sustain proper hydration, since this will maintain a good level of health. Isotonic drinks are also essential to prevent performance decreasing. Therefore, a lot of athletes include these types of drinks in their daily diets.

Woman sweating after working out

Is it advisable to include isotonic drinks in your daily diet?

During the last few years, isotonic drinks have become an important ally for athletes who want to maintain a good level of hydration when they work out.

However, the companies that make these products are also promoting isotonic drinks to people who don’t perform any sort of physical activity.

In order to gain that market, these big companies are marketing light or diet isotonic drinks. These types of drinks contain significantly less sugar compared to traditional isotonic drinks, or at least they replace sugar with different kinds of sweeteners.

These new formulas are an interesting option for people who don’t perform any sort of physical activity on a regular basis. However, this new diet modality isn’t always the best option for athletes.

Why are diet isotonic drinks not recommended for athletes? Beyond the change in flavor, the main issue is the low sugar content. Why? Because the athlete needs that dose of energy that glucose provides.

The small amounts of sugar that light isotonic drinks contain isn’t useful for achieving the general goals that athletes and sports people have. Besides, the sugar content in isotonic drinks allows sodium to absorb much better; sodium is a key component in the recovery process of the body through the replenishment of electrolytes.

Woman drinking isotonic drinks during workout

Energy drinks have proven benefits when it comes to doing sports.

Difference between isotonic drinks and sports drinks

As we’ve seen, sometimes isotonic drinks and sports drinks are confused, but it’s important to highlight the different compounds. The main components of isotonic drinks are: water, minerals, vitamins, colorants, and carbohydrates.

In order to consider a drink as isotonic, it must have an osmolality that varies between 270 and 330 mOsm/kg. In addition to this, some of the most important components in these types of drinks are carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are the main component responsible for providing the consumer with the energy they need to maintain their workout without decreasing their performance.

In this way, and in contrast to sports drinks, isotonic drinks contain a lot of minerals. Those minerals are the ones the athlete loses through sweat, which is why it is essential to replenish them.

Magnesium, calcium and more

Continuing with the mineral analysis, it’s also important to note that isotonic drinks contain magnesium and calcium; both are key components in the muscle contraction and relaxation process. Another component in these drinks is phosphorus, which is essential in the energy recovery process.

With sports drinks, many products lack the components and minerals we talked about before. Because of this, the level of hydration they provide isn’t as good, and they may even favor the appearance of different ailments such as tiredness and muscle cramps, among others.

Isotonic drinks constitute one of the most recommended formulas to consume when performing demanding physical activities.

These energy formulas will help the athlete to maintain optimal performance. This will happen due to the boost of energy that the different components provide to the consumer. However, they’re not the best option for people who don’t perform any kind of physical activity. In those cases, it’s best to choose more natural options.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.