Beyond Water

Enhancing your workout with the right sports/energy drink.

It is commonly known that hydrating before, during and after a workout is beneficial to performance and recovery.  When physical activities last longer than one hour or involve high intensity interval training, the body often needs more than water.    Today there are many forms of pre and post workout beverages available to athletes.   Many of these drinks have a certain quality about them.  They are usually brightly colored (often from artificial colors) and contain a lot of added sugar.  Are you ready to ditch your old neon colored sports drink?  If so, choices are available at Threshold Training that contain no artificial colors, are low in sugar and caffeine, are naturally flavored, and contain no preservative.  Since it is important to be an educated consumer, lets take a look at the NOOMA and FITAID products available at TT to see what they contain and how they may enhance your workouts.

The NOOMA (NO More Artificial) organic electrolyte drink is the only product discussed in this post that is considered a food supplement; not a dietary supplement.    This is because it has no added vitamins, minerals, botanicals, amino acid products or enzyme supplements.  Ingredients come purely from food sources.  The list of ingredients in these products is short and simple.  It has no added sugar, artificial ingredients or preservatives and is crafted with a low osmolarity formula.  This means that the liquid contains a low concentration of ingredients and will be easily digested and absorbed.  This low osmolarity quality provides a boost of energy and a fast acting effective means to stay hydrated and cramp-free. It contains 30 calories per 500ml, 7 grams of carbohydrate (5 grams of natural sugar), filtered water, 28% coconut water (the natural sugar and potassium source), organic flavors (lemon, watermelon, mango, etc,) sea salt (for sodium), and organic stevia leaf extract.  With 30 calories per carton and a compliment of electrolytes you can feel pretty good about downing this drink before, during or after a workout.

NOOMA organic pre-workout energy drink is also an easily digested product.  It contains only 3 grams of sugar from watermelon water (also a potassium source).  Other ingredients include carbonated water, sea salt (sodium) and caffeine (120mg from green tea).  In comparison, an average cup of brewed coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine and a shot (1oz) of espresso about 64mg.  This pre-workout energy drink also contains an “adaptogen” blend of cordyceps, ashwagandha, maca, and ginseng.  Adaptogens are natural substances (herbs or roots) that are touted to help the body adapt to mental and physical stressors.  Because of these adaptogens, NOOMA organic pre-workout energy drink has to be marketed as a dietary supplement.  It is surprising that a pre-workout drink would be produced with carbonated water since carbonation can cause stomach distress in some individuals.  However, if you enjoy the flavor and are not bothered by the carbonation, the caffeine and other ingredients can enhance hydration, provide energy and (possibly) a mental boost to enhance your workout.

As the name suggests, FITAID products are targeted to the fitness enthusiast to enhance workouts and recovery.  The line includes FITAID, FITAID RX, FITAID-RX-ZERO, and FITAID-ZERO. All FITAID products are considered dietary supplements because of the addition of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, an enzyme (CoQ10) and botanicals (turmeric, green tea extract).   These products are low in sugar and caffeine and contain no artificial flavors or sweeteners.  Each of the drinks contains almost the same ingredients with the exception of one or two.

FITAID has 45 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates (9 grams of sugar), carbonated water, glutamine, glucosamine, branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s,) electrolytes, CoQ10, turmeric, quercetin, green tea extracts, vitamins C, D &E, a full complex of B-vitamins, 45mg of caffeine, omega 3 fatty- acids and blue agave nectar as a sweetener. FITAID RX differs due to the addition of 1,000 mg of creatine.  The FITAID ZERO and FITAID ZERO RX have the same ingredients as their FITAID counterparts.  The only difference is the ZERO products contain 0 grams of sugar, 1 gram of carbohydrates and only 5 calories per can.  This difference is achieved by replacing the blue agave nectar with monk fruit and stevia.   The ZERO line is not going to provide the benefit of replenishing energy utilized during a workout.

FITAID products also contain a proprietary blend of ingredients.  This is a combination of ingredients used only by one supplement manufacturer.  No other company makes the exact same combination and amount of ingredients.  It is an effective way for manufacturers to keep their product unique and safe from other competitors but it doesn’t allow the consumer to be well informed.

Consuming FITAID products as soon as possible after a workout for recovery will provide you with a source of nutrients including Branch Chain Amino Acids and creatine (in the RX Products) to promote muscle growth and repair.  After a workout it is also important to replenish energy stores that have been utilized during a workout and prepare you with energy for your next workout.  The carbohydrate sources in the FITAID drinks will help aid in this process. However, FITAID ZERO with its minimal calorie content cannot provide this particular benefit.  The addition of caffeine provides a stimulant source to help you feel more energized to tackle your post-workout activities of daily living.

The consumption of fluids, carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats should be viewed as a necessary process to support and enhance quality training.  The benefit of the consumption of fluids and these nutrients is well documented in research studies.  In regards to the addition of other ingredients in these products, creatine and caffeine are the only other ingredients that are proven to be safe and effective at recommended doses.  The safety and effectiveness of other ingredients like botanicals, amino acids and enzymes in the FITAID products is promising but more research is needed to confirm effectiveness and benefits.

The proven benefits of the ingredients contained in the NOOMA and FITAID products come from the fluid content, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, caffeine and creatine.  Fluids will support hydration, carbohydrates will help replenish energy stores, protein rich foods will help repair muscle and maximize muscle growth, and healthy fats are needed to meet an athletes energy needs, make important hormones, absorb fat soluble vitamins, and to possibly regulate inflammation in the body.

As most know, caffeine in it’s recommended dose of no more than 450mgs/day is effective as a central nervous system stimulant and can improve performance by providing a heightened sense of awareness and a decreased perception of effort.  Creatine, a molecule naturally produced in the body is believed to increase muscle capacity to do work and improve the energy efficiency of muscle.  It also optimizes muscle recovery and synthesis. In addition to being produced by the body, creatine is found naturally in food sources such as meat and fish.  As a dietary supplement, it has been proven in studies to be safe and effective at recommended doses (3-5g/d.)  It is likely to be effective for increasing lean body mass in athletes performing repeated high intensity, short duration exercise bouts and likely to improve performance in weight lifters.  Essentially, when supplementing with creatine, you are increasing energy capacity in muscles, allowing the body to work at higher intensities for longer periods of time.

  The NOOMA products contain ingredients that are all well researched and proven beneficial.  The FITAID recovery drinks contain these well researched, beneficial ingredients but also contain many dietary supplements that fall into the “may be beneficial but more research is needed category.”  None of these ingredients are harmful but whether or not they actually aid in performance and recovery is currently unknown.  Be the educated consumer and do your research.  Regarding supplements, the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements website is a great source for evidence based information on the effectiveness and benefits of questionable ingredients.  https://ods.od.nih.gov

Based on an athlete’s needs and if the flavor is appealing, one of the NOOMA or FITAID products can certainly enhance a workout and aid in the recovery process. Most importantly, do not rely solely on these products.  They are intended to supplement a meal plan that meets the nutritional and caloric needs of athlete’s.  The consumption of whole foods before a workout and within a two-hour window following a workout cannot be emphasized enough as a means to fuel properly for a workout and recover fully afterwards.

Be on the lookout in future TT newsletters for more on foods and timing of intake to enhance your workout and your recovery.  As always, feel free to contact Marcia at marciabristow@fuelingfitnessvt.com with questions and comments.  Also, if interested references are available.