Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Do sports / energy drinks enhance individual performance?

Military health personnel wearing face mask discussing food options Army 1st Lt. Tanner James (left), a dietetic intern at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, consults with a colleague about a special meal for Major League Baseball’s opening day (Photo by: Bernard Little, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center).

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Sports drinks claim that they "increase performance," "rehydrate," and "refuel." What does this mean and should you include them as part of your work out?

What do sports drinks have in them?

Sports drinks contain electrolytes and carbohydrates (energy or fuel source). Carbohydrates replace the energy used to fuel your workout. Dextrose and high-fructose corn syrup are two commonly used energy sources.

Are all sports drinks the same?

Many energy sports drinks are available, however the energy source used for sports drinks varies. For example, some contain dextrose, a rapid source of fuel, while others use high-fructose corn syrup, which fuels muscles more slowly than dextrose. The cost of sports drinks can also vary with some being more expensive than others based on the cost of ingredients (high-fructose corn syrup is cheaper to produce than dextrose). Absorption rates of sports drinks is also different, dextrose has two glucose molecules, while high fructose corn syrup consists of glucose and fructose. Muscles absorb glucose more quickly than fructose. So if you are looking to fuel more quickly you will want to choose a beverage that is made primarily of dextrose.

Can sports drink increase your performance?

When it comes to "increased performance," there is no agreement on the definition. However, the use of sports drinks as fuel during exercise has been associated with performing an activity for a longer period of time.

When to include sports drinks...

Sports drinks aim to fuel the exercising muscle. However, not all exercise calls for drinking an energy-containing sports drink. You should critically analyze your exercise to ensure it meets the recommendations for adding energy containing sports drink. Different types of exercise require different amounts of energy replenishment. For example, intense exercise (an exercise level that makes it hard to carry on a conversation) lasting longer than one hour calls for ingesting, eating, or drinking 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour.

Additionally, endurance exercise (an exercise level of breathing hard but still being able to have a conversation) lasting greater than one hour also increases your need for energy replenishment. Exercise lasting less than one hour does not typically indicate a need for an energy-containing sports drink. Keep in mind that excess sports drink consumption can lead to weight gain.

Here are sports drink recommendations:

Exercise Time

Amount of Carbohydrate

Less than 1 hour

0 grams

Intense Exercise: 1 hour or longer

30 to 60 grams per hour

Endurance Exercise: 1-2 hours

30 grams per hour

Endurance Exercise: 2-3 hours

60 grams per hour


Sports drinks can aid in recovery after both intense or endurance exercise when used correctly. The next time you reach for a sports drink, make sure that drink is going to help you meet your performance goals; understand the amount and intensity of your exercise; read the sports drink label; identify the source of energy (dextrose versus corn syrup); identify how much energy (carbohydrates) it contains.

Making a smart choice will ensure you get the energy you need to enhance your performance.

For more information about diet and exercise, call your local military medical treatment facility's Nutrition Services Department.

You also may be interested in...

What is a "healthy" weight-loss eating plan, anyway?

Article Around MHS
9/28/2021
A female soldier poses with an apple in her hand.

Weight loss sounds simple: take less “energy in” (fuel from food and drinks, measured in calories) and use more “energy out” (calories burned through daily physical activity and exercise).

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

JRTC, Fort Polk promote health, fitness for civilian workforce

Article Around MHS
9/23/2021
Luewana Hannon (left), community ready and resilient integrator, provides information to Georgia Louis (right) during the education and information fair at the Join Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk Army Community Service, Sept. 20.

The Civilian Fitness and Health Promotions Program hosted an education and information fair at the Join Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk Army Community Service, Sept. 20.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness

Understanding Non-Suicidal Self-Injury, Support for Military Children

Article
9/21/2021
Non-suicidal self-injury by adolescents vary based on studies — from 1 in 6 to as high as 1 in 4 — rates have increased over the past 20 years. Given this prevalence and the associated health risks, it’s crucial for anyone treating adolescents to be aware of NSSI.

Non-suicidal self-injury by adolescents vary based on studies — from 1 in 6 to as high as 1 in 4 — rates have increased over the past 20 years.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Conditions and Treatments

Food Safety Month: Commissaries Join Other Agencies in Highlighting Foodborne Illness Prevention

Article Around MHS
9/13/2021
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Spc. Crystal Vice, a veterinary food inspection specialist with Public Health Activity Fort Carson, checks the expiration date on a peanut butter container Oct. 13, 2020, at the Fort Carson Commissary. Food inspectors randomly check food and other items before they’re put on the shelves for sale. (Photo by Eric E. Parris)

During Food Safety Education Month in September, DeCA joins the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Food Safety Inspection Service, the Department of Health and Human Services and other organizations in reinforcing foodborne illness awareness and prevention.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Public Health

As Fitness Tests Resume, Troops Seek Post-COVID Exercise Routines

Article
8/31/2021
Military personnel physically training

Keeping fit during pandemic proves hard for some.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Coronavirus

How Good Diet and Exercise Prevent Injury and Disease

Article
8/30/2021
Photo of group doing pushups.

A proper diet and exercise regimen can ward off disease and aid in maintaining your health.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness

MHS and MOS Town Hall To Your Health: Dental Health

Article
8/24/2021
MHS and Military OneSource Townhall graphic

MHS and Military OneSource presents a discussion about Dental Health.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health - Dental, Medical & Mental | Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Dental Care | MHS and Military OneSource To Your Health

Stay Hydrated for Optimal Performance

Article
8/10/2021
A soldier takes a drink from his canteen.

Proper hydration is key to optimal performance.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Ask the Doc: AO2 Energy

Article
7/26/2021
AO2

Dear Doc: Me and the guys in my shop drink A LOT of caffeine. I'm not much of a coffee guy, but I do drink two or three energy drinks a day. I drink a lot of water too, and I'm young and in good shape, but sometimes I feel like I'm a little too reliant on these drinks. I sometimes short myself on sleep only because I know I can have an energy drink or two and be fine for most of the day. Is that a problem? Should I cut back? What are the impacts on my health? Are some forms of caffeine (coffee or tea, for example) better or safer than others? I'd rather focus on this while I'm young and healthy instead of keeping it up for a decade before I realize it's caused a real health problem. -AO2 Energy

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Ask The Doc

Total Force Fitness Physical

Infographic
7/21/2021
Total Force Fitness - Total Body Preventive Health and Physical Fitness - Ability to physically accomplish all tasks while remaining mission capable and avoiding injury

Total Force Fitness - Total Body Preventive Health and Physical Fitness - Ability to physically accomplish all tasks while remaining mission capable and avoiding injury

Recommended Content:

August Toolkit | Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

AJ-Maste Yoga: Tips for a Healthy Deployment

Article
7/13/2021
Military personnel doing a yoga pose

Yoga comes in many forms and fashions, and has proven health benefits.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Total Force Fitness

Avoid summertime food poisoning with these easy tips

Article
7/9/2021
Someone cooking on a grill

Food safety in the summer is just as important as sunscreen

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

CHAMP uses more predictive analytics to improve beneficiary healthcare

Article
7/8/2021
A game of tug-of-war

Military health innovation and Total Force Fitness go hand-in-hand.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Innovation Month | Health Innovation – Pathways to Ready Reliable Care | Health Innovations across the MHS Enterprise | MHS Research Symposium

Turn Post-traumatic Stress Into Post-traumatic Growth

Article
6/30/2021
PTSD Infographic

Myths and facts about post-traumatic stress (PTS) and post-traumatic growth (PTG).

Recommended Content:

June Toolkit | PTSD Awareness Month | Total Force Fitness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Aphasia, Caused by Stroke or TBI, is Frustrating and Little Known

Article
6/29/2021
A doctor looking at brain scans

Aphasia is an incurable disease usually caused by stroke that affects all forms of communication.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Heart Health | Centers of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 7

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.