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Fit Fridays: Sports Drinks vs. Water

Posted: Updated: Feb 2, 2013 9:50 PM

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- When your body sweats it's losing fluid, energy and what are called electrolytes.

"Electrolytes are mostly sodium and potassium," said Andrea Erickson, a registered dietitian at Gundersen Lutheran Health System. "So when we lose sodium and potassium, sports drinks are meant to replenish that."

Sports drinks, like Gatorade and Powerade, also contain carbohydrates in the form of sugar.

"The carbohydrates are meant to replenish that energy we're losing," Erickson said. "We lose carbohydrates within one hour of working out -- two hours normally, when we're not working out."

But Erickson said, for most of us, sports drinks are not a necessity.

"The majority of the time water will be the best way to replenish what you're losing," she said. "Because what we're eating during the day usually has enough sodium and potassium in it to keep us balanced."

"The general guideline is to use a sports drink if your exercise is at a high intensity, if it's really hot or humid outside or if your exercise is more than one hour long," Erickson said. "Most people, when they're just going to the gym and working out to be healthy, don't need a sports drink to replenish what's necessary."

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