What's the difference between hypertonic and isotonic sports drinks?  Which one is better?


Tonicity is a measure of osmotic pressure, or in very non science terms, it tells us how much solid type stuff (solutes) are in a liquid.  Hypertonic means there is a greater tonicity than the control subject, isotonic tells us its equal to the control and hypotonic means there is less than tonicity or osmotic pressure than the control.


The ‘control' is whatever we're comparing tonicity.  For example, blood has an osmotic pressure of 7.65atm at 37.5degrees, so anything the same as this is isotonic.


And this is where sports drinks come in.


•·         Isotonic sports drinks provide around 6%-8% CHO and sodium (typically).  This makes it the closest "formula" to your blood and is thought to provide the most rapid absorption.  But note, if you eat a CHO or gel or even drink water along with your Isotonic sports drink the entire ingestion will be either hypertonic or hypotonic.  So when practicing your sports nutrition, try just having your isotonic sports drink on its own to see if the rapid absorption produces better results for you.

•·         Hypotonic sports drinks provide less than 6%-8% CHO and sodium, so is a little better for those wanting a lower sugar hit or who may already be taking an electrolyte supplement.  Some athletes perform better on a hypotonic solution than an isotonic, so have a play around with the different tonicities and see what feels better for you.  Wapnir & Lifshitz  suggest, with good evidence that hypotonic solutions provide the most rapid hydration.

•·         Hypertonic sports drinks provide greater than 8% of CHO and sodium, and is greater than the ratio your blood is carrying.  This ratio makes the fluids from the drink slower to absorb, but good for long term replenishment of carbs and sodium.  If you need a quick hit of carb or sodium,  isotonic may be the better choice for you.  But again, each athlete is different.  If you are quite dehydrated the rate of absorption of a Hypertonic sports drink may not be fast enough for you and make your dehydration more severe.


If you're trying to lose weight or just doing your daily hour at the gym you don't need a sports drink.  And if you've got a good balanced diet, even a 2 hour gym session doesn't require a sports drink.


In a nutshell, it basically means how much sugar and sodium is in your water.  Each athlete is different, and different conditions may require a different formulation.  For example you may do well on a hypertonic drink doing a marathon in winter, but an ultra-marathon in summer can dehydrate you quickly, so an iso or hypo tonic solution may be best for rapid fluid absorption.


Whatever you decide to use, keep rule number one firmly in mind:

If you haven't practiced it first....don't do it on the day.

Stacey Hancock
23 May 11
A healthy functioning body picks up less winter bugs and if it does happen to pick something up, then it recovers much quicker.  I'm not a huge fan of the flu vaccine and I always ask the question to seemingly healthy people, Why is your immune system unable to handle the flu?  It often amazes me that those who I have spoken to who get vaccinated just get sick anyway, and more often than not, multiple times.

Your immune system knows what it's job is, but if you've beaten it into submission with a poor diet, stress and an unhealthy environment - then it's not able to do this job properly.  You may not be able to see your immune system, but it's there, working with you or against you if you let it.

Here are my top 10 immune boosters.

1.       Olive Leaf Extract - antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant.  1 tsp a day, increase to 3 tsp at the earliest onset of illness.

2.       Vitamin C.  500mg 2x daily, increasing to 500mg 6-8x daily at the earliest onset of illness

3.       Powdered Green supplement - for bio available, non-synthetic nutrients. Daily 1tsp.

4.       Daily probiotic.  Most of your immune system is housed in the gut, so an imbalance here will unbalance your immunity.  In addition, winter is damp and creates a great environment for bugs to flourish in our bodies

5.       Reduce or eliminate carbohydrates like bread and sugar.  Sugar and refined carbs depress the immune system.  At the earliest onset of illness, cut out completely and fight the cravings off with some lean protein, which is also supports the immune system.

6.       Water.  Water helps to move toxins through the system.  At the onset of illness increase your water intake to assist mucous production, which helps to package up and eliminate bugs

7.       De-mould your home.  Don't treat mould lightly, the spores are getting into your body every time you take a breath.  Look at getting a dehumidifier or other damp reducing product.

8.       Sleep well, or at least make an attempt to improve your sleep.  Poor sleep depresses the immune system and raises stress hormones, which further affect immunity.

9.       Get your stress under control.  Yes, this may mean a life change.  Stress depletes nutrients and depresses the immune system.  Along with (amongst other things) its affects on mental and digestive health, your energy levels and quality of sleep, this is one thing you really want to start working on for the good of your health.

10.   Get rid of the toxins now.  Smoking, drinking, drugs and any other chemicals you frequent yourself with.  These things produce free radicals which seek and destroy cell membranes, putting an extra load on your immune system that it doesn't need.  Toxins also deplete nutrients, and some of these nutrients are crucial to your immunity.

There are many other remedies and strategies including, Garlic, Echinacea, colloidal silver, essential fatty acids, glutamine, iron, B-Vitamins, Zinc, herbal and homeopathic remedies.  In my opinion the ones I have listed are the top ones for strengthening the immune system, so your body can do the work of fighting off bugs.

We all have health and fitness goals, but I believe every single one of us should be adding 'balancing body chemistry' to those goals, once you have done the hard yards to achieve this, maintaining a happy healthy body is easy.

And a final note about toxins/sugar/poor sleep and immunity - Easter's coming up, count how many of your colleagues come back from Easter break with illness.

13 April 11

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