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Sports drinks lack evidence to back their claims

health and fitness Updated: Jul 20, 2012 14:06 IST
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Performance-enhancing drinks and shakes have a striking lack of evidence to back up their claims, a new study suggests. Researchers from the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine in the UK examined the science behind marketing claims of 104 products and found that more than half made claims not substantiated by any evidence.

The researchers then judged that of those that do, half of the evidence is not suitable for critical appraisal.

The takeaway? Drink water instead, suggested the researchers, and you'll spare yourself extra calories you likely don't need. A 380ml bottle of Lucozade Energy, for example, contains 266 calories -- that is about the same as a Mars bar (260 calories) -- which would take about half an hour of running to burn off.

Lead researcher Matthew Thompson told The Telegraph in the UK that drinking such products "could completely counteract exercising more, playing football more, going to the gym more" in terms of losing weight. The findings were published online in the journal BMJ Open on July 18.

However a separate study finds that consuming both caffeine and carbohydrates, common ingredients in some sports drinks, can help muscles recover more quickly from intense exercise. According to the study, glycogen, the muscles' primary fuel source during your workout, is replenished more quickly when athletes ingest both carbohydrates and caffeine following exhaustive workouts.