Hydrating Pre and Post Game

There is a lot of confusion about the best thing to drink before or after a game or practice. Does one liquid work better than all the rest? What does the science say?

In the video, Locker Room Doctor Mike mentioned a study comparing water vs coconut water vs sports drinks (Editor’s note: The trial used a generic sports drink – NOT Gatorade as Doc Mike said in the clip. Apparently he thinks getting sued is good publicity)

A quick overview…..

There were many objective and subjective measurements of rehydration: Bottom line was Water = Sports drink = Coconut water. The Coconut water had more stomach upset and bloating.

Chocolate milk?: there is mounting evidence that it is a more cost effective post exercise recovery drink compared to the “ades”. Chocolate milk is a good mix of carbs and protein with Vitamins A,D and calcium- protein helps muscle growth and repair. However, chocolate milk also has sugar and calories. The “ades” are mostly sugary electrolytes and helpful if you have “another hour to go”.. the “G” series has added protein. If water is not an option or the reality of your choice is one sweet drink or another after a game, I might lean to chocolate milk. White milk actually gives you all the carbs/protein with less sugar.

Timing: There has been a lot of marketing about the pseudo-science of this; that there is a specific electrolyte strategy around “pre-hydration”. Most evidence actually just points to the built-in intelligence of our bodies. Essentially, “drink when you are thirsty”; I would simply get your athlete to think a bit more about being aware of their thirst and know that dark urine means they need more water. This is a nice review from the British Medical Journal with a video overview explanation by Professor Tim Noakes.

Bottom Line: Water is fine for the vast majority of situations. Post-activity water is still fine. If your athlete can’t be convinced of water post activity (and more calories isn’t a bad thing) chocolate milk or milk is a cost-effective option. Teach awareness of thirst/urine colour and a corresponding visit to a water fountain. Tournaments and longer events may need some extra attention

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