It’s one of those high energy days. You decide to prolong your workout, jog five km instead of the three you normally do before calling it a day. You are bathed in sweat and need a cool yet nutritional drink to supplement your effort on the rubber. But the moment you start considering your choices, you are stuck.While good old banana shake beckons, you remember reading a scientific study about low fat chocolate milk being the ideal post workout drink. Then you recall your personal trainer’s lecture on the benefits of whey milk. But wait a minute.Click here to EnlargeShouldn’t you replenish the minerals lost with sweat through an electrolyte-based drink? We help you sift though these options and make the right choice.When you exercise, your muscles break down to take a bigger and stronger form and sweat makes you lose body fluid.Workout drinks help replenish the energy levels and keep you going. While proteinrich drinks focus on building better muscles, electrolyte-based drinks provide the essential minerals lost in sweat. Deciding what you need is essential.Check your hydration levelsTypically, you are required to drink two cups of water before, during, and after a workout to maintain level of body fluid.This may vary depending upon various factors including the length and intensity of your workout. A good way to check your hydration levels can be monitoring the urine output. Light coloured, diluted urine indicates good hydration levels while dark coloured, concentrated urine points towards dehydration. Also, keep a check on the weight lost before and post workout.advertisementStudies have found that athletes who lose as little as two per cent of their body weight through sweating experience a drop in blood volume which causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood, leading to muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue and heat stroke. However, be cautious not to overdo hydration as this can lead to hypernatremia, a condition which occurs due to excessive water intake and low sodium levels in the blood. Drink around two cups of water for every 450 gm lost.Sweating causes a loss of electrolyte such as calcium, chloride, magnesium, sodium and potassium which are essential for normal body functioning. Though intense training in the heat will cause a depletion of minerals, training in a cool room won’t cause much electrolyte loss.Chocolate milk is idealChocolate milk is an ideal post-exercise drink, say two recent studies done at the University of Texas. Researchers found that athletes who drank this put on more muscle and less fat, recorded better timing while working out and were in better physical shape than peers who consumed sports drinks that just contained carbohydrates and calorie-free health drinks. Cyclists exhibited more power and reduced their ride time by an average of six minutes when they consumed low-fat chocolate milk. They were also found to have twice the improvement in endurance, built more muscle and reduced fat compared to others.”You can’t depend upon just carbs or just proteins to replenish the body which is why having zero carbs protein supplement or having only high carb drink is not a good idea. Better go for ideal mix of the two,” says Snehswaran Reddy, HOD, physical education, Gems International. However, chocolate milk only provides calcium and sodium – just two of the four major electrolyte lost in sweat. But, as explained earlier, you are not going to miss them much because your body is not depleted of these minerals during regular workout routines. Only if you find yourself exercising in extreme conditions over long hours, sports drink with a good electrolyte balance can be an ideal option.Whey-based drinkMilk contains two primary proteins: casein and whey. Whey has about about 20 per cent of milk proteins and is a natural by-product of the cheesemaking process. Earlier, this liquid was discarded but today it’s a major ingredient of protein supplements used by iron-pumping body builders across the world. Besides whey protein powders, whey-based beverages are also being marketed as workout drinks. These offer a combination of electrolyte, making them a cross between protein drinks and waterbased sports drinks.However, whey is high on lactose so anyone with lactose intolerance can’t consume it. The carb to protein ratio in whey greatly skewed at 16: 1, so it can be termed more as an energy booster with electrolyte than a muscle-building drink.Chocolate milk: Regular vs low fatScientists believe there is something in naturally occurring combination of carbs and protein that makes chocolate milk a mighty potion. However, low fat chocolate milk does not contain the ideal carb to protein ratio of 4: 1 which is needed to replenish glycogen stores and to stimulate muscle growth.advertisementOn the other hand, regular chocolate milk fulfils this criterion – one cup contains 226 calories, 31.7 g carbs and 8.6 g protein. It also contains 154 mg sodium, 1.1 g dietary fibre and helps meet 25 per cent of your daily calcium need.Pick a sports drink with low carbsIf you are exercising at a high intensity for 60 minutes or more, grab a sports drink with electrolyte. However, make sure that the drink doesn’t contain more than 8 per cent of carbs as high amounts of carbs can cause slow absorption, nausea, cramps or diarrhoea. But a drink with 5 per cent or less sugar solution may not provide enough energy to help you go on for longer period of time. “Electral contains much wider range of minerals lost in sweat than any other sports drink available in the market,” says Sanjay Arora, a seasoned marathon runner.