Are Sports Snacks Beneficial?

During the warm weather season, many athletes reach for a sports drink to boost their energy and quench their thirst. Knowing when and how sports drinks are helpful is the key to keeping your body replenished, reports Dr. Michael Breen of CBS station WBBM-TV in Chicago.

Consumer Reports recently pointed out that while sports drinks have become a billion dollar business, it's not always necessary for athletes to drink them. The magazine found that if you're exercising for less than an hour, water will provide everything you need.

"If I'm doing that, I would rather drink water. I don't need it at that point," says personal trainer Reggie Long. "You need it a point where you're a little depleted, you're pretty much soaked with perspiration."

If you exercise for more than an hour, you'll benefit from the carbohydrates and sodium found in most sports drinks. But even then, you can benefit just by drinking some diluted fruit juice, Dr. Breen says.

Sports nutritional bars are another health food fad, but just like sports drinks, they may not be as special as you think. In choosing a particular brand of sports nutritional bar, caution is often the best approach.

"If you've been around a little while you kind of know which ones are the real ones and which ones are the copycats and which ones really have some value to them," Long says.

Some nutritional bars will give you a surge of carbohydrates and proteins, fitness experts say. But Long says that tests show some brands don't have the balanced combination they claim.

Long recommends sticking to the original brands to get the carbohydrates and proteins that can help boost your energy.