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Isotonic Drinks: Restore your balance in just drops!

a glass of water with a lemon slice: add salt and juice to make isotonic drinks
Freelance journalist
Carina is a freelance journalist. She writes about food and for our "healthy lifestyle" column.

Are isotonic drinks the effective power supply you need for your workout? Let’s find out what these sports drinks really do – and most importantly, who they’re good for. 

Isotonic: What does it mean?

Do you just want water or maybe something more special? Quenching your thirst during a workout is something lots of people grapple with! You may have cracked open an isotonic drink or two yourself when you started to sweat during a workout. But what does isotonic actually mean and what is it good for?

The term isotonic appears in various scientific fields. In that context, it refers to a solution that has the same osmotic pressure as human blood. If this is the case, the exchange of fluids can proceed more easily.

This is also the case with isotonic drinks, which have the same ratio of liquid to nutrients and minerals as human blood. The ingredients of these drinks can therefore be quickly absorbed and digested by the body. 

Because the term isotonic is not defined by law, many beverages can fall into this category – but above all it includes ready-to-drink sports drinks, fruit spritzers and non-alcoholic beer. 

Our tip: Are you still looking for the ultimate fitness drink? Then let us surprise you with our Cocowhey, where whey protein meets refreshing coconut water.

a package of Cocowhey on top of a monstera leaf - cocowhey is a great example of isotonic drinks with a kick

©foodspringRefresh with Cocowhey

Who are iso-drinks suitable for and what are their benefits?

Iso-drinks are definitely of interest to anyone who enjoys physical exercise, because they provide hydration during and after a workout. But they’re particularly suitable for competitive athletes.

For good reason: athletes not only have an increased need for hydration, but also an increased energy requirement to cover. So isotonic drinks should be formulated to be absorbed quickly. 

So, isotonic drinks are said to maintain performance during longer endurance training. They provide that necessary energy mainly from carbohydrates such as glucose, glucose polymers, and sucrose. Also, these drinks are suitable as thirst quenchers and their higher concentration of sodium can improve the absorption of and compensate for the loss of water and minerals when we sweat.

The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) also claims that iso-drinks are optimal for top athletes because they can replace energy and water losses that already occur during training. They aren’t, though, necessary in leisure and popular sports such as soccer, jogging, and dancing.

But an isotonic drink can be quite useful for particularly sweat-inducing interval training, a long endurance workout (e.g. two to three hours of running), or for exercising in the heat.

Our tip: Whether running, swimming, high-intensity workouts, or cycling – our Recovery Aminos are a surefire way to help your body bounce back quick. Mix them up with your choice of recovery drinks to hit all your body’s needs.

try our recovery aminos

Non-alcoholic beer after a workout – sports drink or myth?

It may sound unusual, but according to the DGE even non-alcoholic beer is suitable as a sports drink. But because it can still contain small amounts of alcohol, it should only be consumed in small amounts, and always outside of training and competition phases. Get yourself a few bottles of these unconventional recovery drinks for your fridge!

In fact, many athletes swear by non-alcoholic beer because it can be isotonic, just like special fitness drinks. On the other hand, the low sodium content is a disadvantage. Because we sweat our sodium out, an ideal sports drink should be able to compensate for the electrolytes lost in your workout. It’s worth taking a look at the nutritional value table for any drinks advertised as isotonic!

Tip: make your own isotonic sports drinks

refreshing isotonic drinks with citrus and ginger
©foodspring

The thing about these drinks on the market is that the mineral and sugar content can vary quite a lot from product to product. Sometimes, they have unnatural additives such as flavorings, artificial colors, and sweeteners. If you want to steer clear, you can also take matters into your own hands.

By the way, your DIY version doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. You can simply mix two parts of salt-rich water – about 600 milligrams of sodium per liter – with one part of juice. Your homemade iso-drink is ready to enjoy during your power workout. If you are aiming for a less intensive workout, you can dilute your fitness juice spritzer with a bit more water.

Basically, there are different recipes for before, during, and after a training session, so your body can always get what it really needs. Plus, the duration and intensity of your workouts are also important, so you should have these factors in mind when you’re looking for the right recipe for your ideal isotonic drink.

Buying isotonic drinks: What you should pay attention to?

Do you love sports and are you intrigued by isotonic drinks? Take a look at the ingredients before you buy. Sports drinks should contain carbohydrates that provide quick energy. Carbs also supply your muscles with glucose.

Spotlight on electrolytes – these are also one of the main components of workout drinks. This is because during particularly high intensity, sweaty workouts, about five to seven percent of the body’s sodium and chloride reserves are lost. In order to prevent a deficit that could reduce performance, we recommend a drink with a corresponding electrolyte content.

Not all sports drinks keep their promises. So pay close attention to what’s advertised and what’s ultimately in it. It’s certainly worth comparing different brands. Your alarm bells should ring if you see a product has any artificial additives.

With our Endurance Drink, though, you’re on the right track, as we’ve already indicated. It’s free of questionable colors and additives and boasts natural ingredients and sweeteners. Calcium and magnesium, for example, help your muscles function at their best during your workout, while the sodium allows you to work out at full speed. And then there’s dextrose and fructose, which keep your energy levels high.

Isotonic beverages: Summary

  • Isotonic drinks have the same osmotic pressure as human blood.
  • That’s why they can quickly balance your hydration and the loss of minerals and nutrients during intense workouts.
  • Isotonic drinks are particularly suitable for competitive athletes and very long and particularly sweaty endurance workouts.
  • Iso-drinks can also be made at a reasonable price and with little effort.
  • If you want to buy isotonic drinks in stores, you should always pay attention to whether they contain natural ingredients.
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