The Next Thing!

We are forever looking for the “next” thing in sport, in nutrition, in health, in exercise.  The “next” thing that will be the magic formula for helping us achieve peak performance and personal best timings.  The “next” thing that will help us lose weight, get rid of cancer, improve our general health.

But sometimes less is more and going back to basics is worth investigating.  After all there is no “magic formula” and common sense is key.  For instance, if you eat thousands of calories in the form of chocolate, sweets, cakes and biscuits each and every day chances are you are not going to be at your ideal weight nor are you going to be or feel healthy.  Common sense tells you that too many calories will encourage weight gain.  The issue of sugar in our food is constantly in the press regarding its effect on our health and its role in the development of disease.

If you eat less sugary food and more fruit and vegetables, wholemeal pasta and bread, beans and pulses this will help your over all health and fitness – along with regular exercise of course.

Then there is the question of what to drink.  Yes we know to cut down on tea and coffee but there are so many “healthy” drinks and sports supplements on the market it is difficult to know if these are a good idea or not.

Everyone know that water is the best drink for quenching your thirst, don’t they? Then there is the cost, it’s cheap.  (Well of course that rather depends on the brand you buy.  I have seen bottled water as much as £5 and don’t get me started on how much restaurants charge).  Water has no calories so a big plus for everyone following a diet or changing their eating regime.

A US independent Beverage Guidance panel ranked it top for its “contribution to intake of energy and essential nutrients” and for “its positive effects on health”. In comparison, sports drinks were way down the list, just above “sweetened, nutrient-poor drinks” such as Coca-Cola.

An advert earlier this year claiming Lucozade Sport “hydrated you and fuels you better than water” was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, which ruled it was misleading.

Sports drinks do not provide any benefit when compared with water if you are exercising for 90 minutes or less. Water will rehydrate you just fine, without the added sugar. You also don’t need to stock up on fluids “just in case” (this can be potentially toxic). While dehydration is a risk in endurance exercise, the body’s thirst mechanism can be trusted to prevent it. A study of cyclists in time trials found that relying on thirst (drinking to thirst, as it’s called) to replace fluid produced a better performance than either over or under-drinking.

Meanwhile, paediatric journals warn that the acidity in sports drinks erodes teeth enamel and encourages obesity – a 500ml bottle of Lucozade Sport contains 17.5g of sugar (a teaspoon is 4g).

In a 2013 study, O’Neal et al found that sports drink ingestion by recreational exercisers did not alter mood or perceived exertion, nor did it affect subsequent anaerobic performance under the conditions of the study. From the study, they concluded that drinking calorific sport beverages does not benefit recreational exercisers in a non-fasted state.


O’Neal, E.K. et al. (2013) Post-prandial carbohydrate ingestion during 1 hour of moderate-intensity, intermittent cycling does not improve mood, perceived exertion, or subsequent power output in recreationally-active exercisers. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 10(4)