For a while I had completely dismissed sports drinks. All I knew was that I couldn’t drink one during a hockey or basketball game without getting stomach cramps, and that I’d be fine if I stuck to water. I thought their only purpose was to taste good. I knew my mom would give me green Gatorade whenever I was sick to “replenish electrolytes,” but I didn’t really know what that meant (and as a consequence I now hate the taste of green Gatorade). But that was it.
Turns out, sports drinks do actually serve a purpose, and can be very important at an ultimate tournament.
When you work out, you sweat. Your body loses water, but it also loses salts. You replenish your water supply by drinking water during games, but if you don’t also replenish those salts, you’re only doing part of the job.
You need those salts in order to be able to retain the water you’re drinking. Some science-y shit involving cells and osmosis. If you need to know more, Google it.
Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade contain these salts. They also contain a bunch of sugars that aren’t so good for you (specifically high-fructose corn syrup, which is pure evil), so if that bothers you, you might want to look into an alternative like coconut water, Pedialyte, or pickle juice.
There’s an easy rule of thumb for when to grab a Gatorade. Water alone provides adequate rehydration for the first hour of a game or hard practice, but you should consider adding a sports drink to replenish your salts after the first hour. Consider that when you’re packing for your next tournament.
Replenishing salts is an important part of tournament hydration. If you don’t do it, you’re just going to be sorer and slower on Sunday morning.
(I don’t know about everyone else, but I can’t drink straight Gatorade while playing. I’ll either take sips while I also drink water, or dump some in my water jug to make a really watered-down Gatorade. Your mileage may vary.)