Sports Drinks: Yay or Nay? (Recipe: Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Brown Butter)

Can I just start out by saying thank you to everyone who reads my blog! I was just looking at some of my stats, and I have had nearly 4,000 views from 28 countries!  That is freaking awesome!  Thank you guys so much!  I really appreciate all of your support!

sexy runners

Now on to sports drinks!

I am one of those runners who does not like the taste of Powerade or Gatorade.  Too sweet.  Too artificial.  To tell you the truth, I really only drink water.  Occasionally I will have orange juice or lemonade.  In the winter I will have a hot cider or a hot chocolate every now and then.  And of course I drink wine and other alcoholic beverages (except beer…I’m not a beer drinker…I know, I know…it is a sin to live in Wisconsin and not drink beer, but I just can’t help it!)

Anyway, I read this article on consuming sports drinks during training runs. Some people will tell you that you should consume a sports drink during training runs longer than an hour.  However, it has also been shown that while sports drinks can boost performance, they can also function as sort of a “metabolic crutch”.  Basically, if you rely on sports drinks too heavily in training for longer races, you may not become as fit or perform as well on race day as you otherwise would.  Let’s get into a few of the details.

Running increases aerobic fitness by stimulating muscles to synthesize new mitochondria.  Mitochondria are located within the cells of muscles and are in charge of the process of aerobic metabolism. One of the main fuels that the mitochondria use in aerobic metabolism is glycogen stored in the form of glucose. During both long races and workouts, your glycogen supply in your muscles becomes largely depleted. According to research, glycogen depletion is an important trigger of mitochondrial synthesis. So basically, the depletion of glycogen that occurs in long runs stimulates the muscles to make new mitochondria which boosts aerobic fitness for future runs.

When you use a sports drink during a run, however, natural glycogen supplies are conserved while your muscles use this alternative source of glucose. The result: you finish long runs with more leftover muscle glycogen when you use a sports drink than when you drink only water or nothing at all. The consequence: your muscles create fewer new mitochondria after a long run. You aren’t making new mitochondria.  Therefore, you aren’t boosting aerobic fitness.

That raises the question:  should you never use a sports drink during workouts? Definitely not! Some research has found that training with and without a sports drink increased fitness–just in somewhat different ways. For instance, in one study, the muscles of participants who trained with a sports drink increased the efficiency of burning carbs, while the muscles of those who trained without a sports drink got better at burning fat.

How did the article end?  Basically, the authors suggest that runners use a sports drink in roughly half of their runs lasting between one and two hours, and drink only water during the rest. Therefore, you get better performance resulting in bigger gains in carb-burning capacity during the runs with a sports drink, and you get a greater challenge resulting in bigger gains in mitochondria and fat-burning capacity during runs without a sports drink.

But it is really up to you! You have to do what is right for your body.  I hope you found all of this as interesting as I did!

My workouts so far this week:

– Monday: 45 minutes elliptical; 15 minutes rowing; 15 minutes stairclimber

– Tuesday: 2 miles running; 0.3 miles warm-up/cool down; 30 minutes elliptical; 20 minutes PT exercises

Part of my PT exercises include the “wall sit”.  Remember those from gym class?? My goal is to eventually hold a wall sit for 6 minutes!  That is a crazy long time.  This morning I lasted 3.25 minutes!  Over halfway there!

Song of the Day:  So, I’ve always loved Tim McGraw. I have seen him and Faith Hill in concert once while I was in college. And I think you all know my love for Taylor Swift.  (And I have seen her in concert as well!) Have you heard the song “Highway Don’t Care”?  I heard it on the radio on my way home from work last night (yay for 14-hour days!) and it has been stuck in my head ever since!

Roasted Asparagus with Brown Butter Sauce

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Brown Butter


– 40 asparagus spears, trimmed

– 1/4 tsp salt

– 1/8 tsp pepper

– 2 tbsp butter

– 2 tsp soy sauce

– 1 tsp balsamic vinegar


– Preheat oven to 400*.

– Coat asparagus with cooking spray on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt/pepper.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

– Melt butter in skillet and cook until lightly browned (about 3 minutes).

– Remove from heat; add soy sauce and vinegar.

– Drizzle over asparagus.

This entry was posted in Individual Workouts, Nutrition, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sports Drinks: Yay or Nay? (Recipe: Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Brown Butter)

  1. Becca says:

    Have you ever tried coconut water? It took me a while to get used to the taste (not water, but not juice and not really coconut-y), but it’s supposed to be great for rehydrating after a long run. Even better than most sports drinks. And it’s all natural!

    • Kristen says:

      I haven’t tried it! But I will have to!! I usually just do Smart Water because I’m super picky, but it’s worth a shot!

      • Becca says:

        Yeah, it’s definitely an acquired taste. I’m like you and pretty much drink water and nothing else, but I’ve gotten to the point where I do enjoy a coconut water after a long run.

  2. Pingback: Quick Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (Recipe: Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookies) | Oven Lovin' Runnin'

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