If you are just starting out, you have probably realized that cycling is an expensive hobby. Even after you’ve saved up and purchased a cheap mountain bike the cost of even getting out on your new bike can soar especially after investing in some biking accessories such as bottle cages, bottles, gloves, mountain bike shoes, jerseys, and not forgetting bike helmets. However, there are other biking expenses that shouldn’t be overlooked such as sports nutrition.
If you are out cycling for over 90-minutes you should really consider taking some sort of Isotonic drink with you. Ask any rider what it is like to hit the wall and they will tell you exactly what it feels like to run out of gas half way through a ride, it’s definitely not fun and it can even have a negative effect on your overall training. By taking an Isotonic Drink with you on your ride you’ll be able to ride faster, further as well as keeping your glucose levels full stocked.
What are Isotonic Sport Drinks?
Sports drinks are basically a blend of water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. Most of the best isotonic drinks will contain a high concentration of carbohydrates (around six-eight per cent) from a range of sources such as fructose, sucrose, and glucose.
How Do Isotonic Drinks Work?
One of the main causes of fatigue when you are out cycling is due to the loss of muscle carbohydrates which can severely hinder your ability to keep pace on long rides. Isotonic drinks are beneficial because they are an effect and cheap way to boost your endurance which in-turn will keep you going for longer.
By feeding your muscles with isotonic drinks (or fuel) you will actually delay fatigue and some studies have shown that you could see up to a 20% improvement in performance. Also by getting carbohydrates into your system you will get an additional mental boost which will definitely help on long rides.
Benefits of Drinking Sports Drinks
Below I have listed some of the best benefits of isotonic drinks, I’m sure there are more but these are the major ones. Maybe these benefits will encourage you to take a sports drink with you on your next ride?
The Glycogen found in isotonic drinks is converted by your body into Glucose which is then stored in your muscles and liver. When compared to fat or protein, Glucose require less oxygen to be burned for fuel.
During a hard bike ride your body’s carbohydrate stores can be quickly depleted which can exhaust your body’s supplies if you are riding for two hours or more. By drinking an isotonic drink, you can quickly replenish those supplies and keep your Glycogen levels topped up. Typically, it can take up to 24-48 hours for your body to replenish these levels.
Isotonic drinks are a rich source of electrolytes which are a collection of essential minerals that help to maintain the balance of potassium, sodium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, bicarbonate, and sulphate in the cells of your body.
A 1998 study out of the Netherlands and published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine compared the effects of an isotonic carbohydrate-electrolyte solution (sports drink), a caffeinated soft drink, and a low-sodium mineral water on cyclists. The results of the study showed that the cyclists that were given the isotonic drinks retained more calcium, sodium, and magnesium in their bodies.
If you are sweating a lot the first logical thing to do would be to gulp down some water, however this can actually cause bloating plus it doesn’t contain any much needed electrolyte or carbohydrates.
Isotonic drinks are a better option when you need to hydrate due to the higher level of carbohydrates slowing down the emptying of the stomach which in-turn will help reduce urine output and encourage fluid retention to help prevent dehydration.
There is nothing more important on the road than endurance. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh actually ran studies to measure the effects of isotonic sports drinks on young athletes during and before exercise to see if it had an impact on their endurance.
The findings showed that the isotonic drinks allowed the young athletes to continue high-intensity (start-stop) activity up to 24 percent longer than those who drank a placebo solution.