DEAR PEGGY: Is it a good idea to use sports drinks to replace fluids lost while exercising? —M.W., Madison, Wisconsin
Commercial sports drinks supply calories for energy and replace the fluids, sodium and potassium that are lost through perspiration.
The answer to your question depends on how much exercise you're doing. Most athletes do not need a sports drink unless they've exercised vigorously for at least 1 hour. At that point, however, the body is simply craving fluid of any sort, and the fluid that best complements most sporting activities is water.
If you're more likely to consume a sports drink instead of water while exercising, then by all means do so. It's important to keep in mind, though, that unlike water, many of these products have high calorie counts.