Is Fruit Juice a Good Pre-Workout Drink?

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

You’re headed out for a run or to the gym for a workout, and you need to stay well-hydrated. Some people carry along a bottle filled with fruit juice to sip while they run it out on the treadmill – to replace the liquid and electrolytes they need to stay in top form. Sure, it tastes good, but is fruit juice the best pre-workout drink?

Drink Before Exercise: Is Drinking Fruit Juice Smart?

Fruit juice is a good source of electrolytes, including sodium, chloride and potassium. These minerals need to be replaced if you’re working up a sweat. Fruit juice is also a good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin that helps repair damage to cells due to oxygen. An intense workout can cause significant oxidative stress, so it’s nice to have vitamin C around to repair the damage.

Drinking fruit juice before exercise has its drawbacks too. Fruit juice contains a lot of natural sugar in the form of fructose. If your main reason for working out is to burn fat, drinking fruit juice can put a damper on your fat-burning efforts.

When you drink concentrated fruit juice, you’re supplying your body with fructose, which stimulates insulin release. Insulin blocks an enzyme called hormone-sensitive lipase, the primary enzyme that breaks down fat. As a result, you’ll burn less fat if you keep pumping sugar into your body. For this reason, fruit juice isn’t the best beverage to drink before exercise.

What is the Best Pre-Workout Drink?

If you’ll be exercising less than ninety minutes and you aren’t susceptible to low blood sugars, the best pre-workout drink is water. Unless you’re exercising for prolonged periods of time or working out in a hot climate, you won’t need the additional carbohydrates.

On a hot day, when you’ll be sweating a lot, electrolytes become more of an issue since you lose sodium and water through sweat. In this case, drinking fruit juice diluted 50/50 with water helps lower the sugar content, while still retaining the benefits of the electrolytes. Add a quarter teaspoon of sodium to your diluted fruit juice if you sweat heavily.

Stay away from caffeinated beverages. Although caffeine may slightly boost exercise performance, caffeine is a diuretic that pulls water out of the body.

Beetroot Juice: An Emerging Sport Drink?

There is one veggie pre-workout drink that could give sports drinks a run for their money. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, drinking beetroot juice before exercise boosted exercise stamina in cyclists by 16%. Beetroot juice contains nitrate, a chemical that’s converted to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps to boost oxygen delivery to the hard-working muscles so they can work harder and longer.

What to Drink Before Exercise: The Bottom Line?

If you drink fruit juice, dilute it with water so you’ll reduce the sugar but still get the electrolytes you need. If you’ll be exercising for under an hour, stick with water to burn more fat.


References: “Beetroot Juice May Be a Better Sports Drink”


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