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If I’m exhausted before a workout, is it OK to get a boost from a sports drink?

The question: I usually drink a Gatorade to get me through my evening workout at the gym. Is that OK? I am always so tired after work. I need the extra energy.

The answer: I am not a fan of Gatorade. It is processed and full of sugar, and I hate to say this, but the truth is you are probably not working out hard enough, or for long enough, to need the calories and electrolytes. Unless you're training intensely – like for a marathon or a fitness competition – for seventy-five to ninety minutes, you only need water.

I think the more important question is: why do you always need the Gatorade? Sure, we all sometime feel burnt out and want to go home after work, but it sounds like your energy is chronically low. Instead of relying on Gatorade, let's be detectives and figure out why! The four most likely reasons are that you are not drinking enough water, not fueling well throughout the day, you are over training and/or you are not sleeping enough.

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Usually when I am exhausted during a workout it is because I am dehydrated. I have a nasty habit of forgetting to drink water.

Try always having a water bottle at your desk. Commit to drinking one full bottle both in the morning and afternoon.

Next, on the days you go to the gym make sure you are eating a nutritious breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack. You can't expect to have energy to work out after eating only a bagel with butter at noon.

Lastly, make sure you always take at least one day off from training per week, and that you prioritize getting quality sleep. You won't have any pep in your step at the gym if you are over training or trying to survive on four hours of sleep. Your body and brain recover while you sleep.

Trainer's Tip: Keep healthy snacks at work so you are not tempted to grab a sugary drink or snack before heading to the gym. My evening workouts are the best when I drink water throughout the day and have an apple and a few almonds, or a hard-boiled egg and cut up vegetables, at 3 or 4 p.m.

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for over 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

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