Written by: Sarah True (2016 Olympic athlete + Nuun sponsored athlete)
I’ve only recently been named an official Nuun ambassador, but I’ve been using and loving their tablets for years. How did I start on a path of effervescent excellence, you ask? Like many great superhero origin stories, it began with a masked man.
Back in my mid-20s and a few years after I picked up the sport of triathlon, my dentist gave me advice that changed the how I thought about sports drinks. “Sarah,” he tsk’d, “You’re showing signs of enamel damage. Lay off the sugary sports drinks if you want to avoid further damage.” I was gobsmacked.
If I pull a muscle, it will heal. If I break my bike, I can replace it. But enamel damage? That’s irreversible.
After that fateful day with my dentist, I changed my approach to sports drinks completely. Instead of the sugary drinks that distressed my dentist, I vowed to rely on water and nuun for most of my hydration needs and to avoid unnecessary carbohydrate drinks. Hydration and electrolytes that my body needs without the enamel damaging sugar? That’s a dentist-approved plan! Any calories that I need for longer or intense sessions come almost exclusively from real food. Simple.
Since moving to Ironman distance racing last year, my strategy has shifted a bit: for racing and race-specific training sessions, I consume some fluid calories. Having some carbohydrates in your race fluids is definitely critical. The vast majority of my hydration needs, however, are still met by water and Nuun. In a big training week leading up to an Ironman, only a few hours of my 30 hours of swimming, biking and running would be fueled by carbohydrates in my bottles.
Does a drink containing carbs have a role to play in sports hydration? Sure, but not the outsized one we are lead to believe by most sports drink companies. After my wake up call with my dentist years ago, I started to question what went into my bottles and what I actually needed. Not only did it change the way that I thought about sports nutrition, it was the start of really thinking about everything I consumed.
And as for my pearly whites? While some of the previous damage to my enamel was irreversible, I’ve managed to keep everything in check since then. My dentist is pleased that his excellent advice was heeded and I have a big reason to keep smiling.