Special thanks to the Chiropractic Sports Institute for this article!

By Dr. Terry Weyman

In a great article by Dr. Robert Silverman, written in the journal “Dynamic Chiropractic”, Dr. Silverman takes an indepth look at Key components of a performance/recovery drink and to see if you are getting what you desire. In this article I am going to summarize Dr. Silvermans findings, breaking it down so that implementation is easy.

Why use a recovery/performance drink?

When you sweat and work out your body gets depleted of vital nutrients as well the cells in your body begin to dehydrate. Drinking just water provides the necessary hydration but unfortunately, it lacks the key nutrients to aid in performance and recovery. If water is not sufficient, is there a sports drink on the market that will work? Dr. Silverman did an extensive review of the various literature looking at the ingredients and efficiency. Even though the “best” sports drink say they have carbohydrates, electrolytes and numerous other “performance nutrition” do they do the job and are they good for you. A good Sports Drink should not only fuel activity, but also aid in recovery.

What the drinks should have


“Carbs are a key component for athletic performance, recovery and health. Dr. Silverman recommends 30-60 grams of carbs per hour for an athletic endeavor. The carbohydrate amount will prevent immunosupression, which naturally occurs during intensive exercise. In addition, this amount enables athletes to maintain blood glucose levels, and to
maintain blood glucose levels, and optimize glucose uptake and oxidation in performance.


Sports drinks should contain electrolytes such as sodium, potassium magnesium and chloride. Magnesium, a key electrolyte, plays a pivotal role in 300 enzymatic reactions. Bisglycinate has been shown to be the best form of magnesium because it is chelated (bonded) to an amino acid (glycine). Magnesium in the form of bisglycinate ensures increased intestinal absorption and prevents diarrhea. Finding a company that formulate Magnesium in this form is hard, hence why some sport drinks cause intestinal issues.

Other ingredients that are important:

Malic Acid- a critical addition to a sports drink formulation since it reduces muscle tenderness and assists in soft tissue recovery.

Taurine- is an amino acid that helps regulate the level of water and mineral salts in the blood by keeping potassium and magnesium inside the cell. At the same time, taurine prevents excessive sodium from entering the cell. L-Taurine’s properties have been validated in numerous studies.

L-Carnosine- Also,an amino acid, helps fight muscle fatigue in fast twitch fibers and aids in athletic performance.

In addition, a complete range of complex B vitamins for energy production should be included in the drink as well.

Maximum Carb Efficiency

“Research has shown that a combination of diverse sugars maximizes carbohydrate absorption during exercise. Since glucose and fructose are absorbed at different rates, both glucose and fructose polymers should be present to optimize multiple pathways of absorption during exercise. Most commercial brands use only glucose polymers.

Literature reveals that a glucose-fructose combination, versus water or glucose alone, is the best choice for carbohydrates in a sports drink. The glucose-fructose combination results in improved power performance, running time, time to fatigue during cycling, and a perceived higher level of exertion during both strength and endurance exercises.”

Does your sports drink make the cut?

“Of the more popular brands, Powerade contains high-fructose corn syrup as a source of carbohydrates; it lacks electrolytes and any recovery ingredients. Gatorade has no vitamins and contains only sodium and potassium. Both these brands rely solely on glucose as a carbohydrate source and lack fructose. Another popular brand, Vitamin Water, has no sodium or chloride and contains only trace amounts of magnesium.

Coconut water has very high levels of potassium without any sodium content, and low levels of magnesium. Analysis of coconut water reveals that it primarily contains sucrose as a main carbohydrate source, rather than glucose and fructose in an appropriate ratio of 3:1.”

Its Dr. Silvermans professional opinion, that non of these aforementioned commercial brands contain a proper formulation to aid in athletic performance. Instead, they hinder athletic performance.

What to look for in your “Sports Drink”.

“When looking for a good sports drink do your due diligence. You research what kind of food to eat, now its time to research the best sports drink. Look to companies that provide the powder that you mix your own, found in Cycling and performance shops. Talk to your Sports Medicine practitioners for their opinion on what works best for you. Look for the following ingredients when you are reading your labels.

The drink should contain the 4 electrolytes as ingredients and have the appropriate 3:1 ratio of glucose to fructose. In addition, it should include magnesium in the bisglycinate form, as well as malic acid, taurine, L-Carnosine and complex B vitamins to aid in athletic recovery, states Dr. Silverman”

Read your labels, do your work. You are only given one body and its highly tuned and complex. Treat it with respect and take care of it and your body will perform as it was designed to do.

Dr. Terry Weyman is the Clinic Director of Chiropractic Sports Institute, www.gotcsi.com