I’ve always been rather sceptical about the value of the sports drinks available on the market. Not that I’m questioning the need for appropriate hydration and nutrition before, during and after paddling or any other form of exercise, but more what is it that goes into commercially produced products. I was pleased therefore to have the chance earlier this month to be part of a workshop led by Lee Pooley looking at physiological needs in paddlesport as part of which Lee challenged us to prepare our own sports drinks.
Lee had set up a ‘laboratory’ table with a wide variety of products including sugar, salt, fruit juices, squashes, food flavourings and food colourings –all of which had been sourced from a supermarket – and split us into two teams, one tasked to prepare an isotonic drink for use during exercise and the other a hypertonic drink for use before or after. We set to with relish!
Of course as with any workshop like this the proof was in the tasting of each team’s solutions. I’m not sure exactly what went into the other team’s hypertonic drink but it was sickly sweet, the colour of straw (or was that u***e?) and very salty. We gave it a big thumbs down. My team’s isotonic preparation however was eminently drinkable – a pleasant light purple hue (courtesy of a splash of a well-known blackcurrant drink) and with just enough carbohydrate (granulated sugar) and a pinch of table salt to be effective. And as for the cost – we calculated it at around 12 pence/litre. I think I can now say I better understand the true value of sports drinks!