I have a question on recovery after cardio. Given that hydrating and electrolyte post-workout is vital, what is the virtue of sports drinks over water+potato chips (baked)? To be clear, this is a question about quality not quantity of nutrition, or even better options such as real potato or bananas.

To wit, both have sodium and potassium, but while sport drinks is otherwise sugar, potato chips have a little bit of sugar, fiber, carbs, fat and protein. All of which are, in general, vital nutrients and nutrition-delivery mechanisms. On top of that, potato chips are more delicious/satisfying (IMHO) plus in general, both electrolyte-per-calorie and nutrition-per-dollar is higher than for sports drinks (at least the version with water).

So the question is, what, if any, of the potato-chip carbs/fiber/fat/protein is counterproductive to the overall health benefits of cardio? maybe glycimic-index? To me however, it seems like the opposite would actually true. Indeed, I would go as far as to recommend baked potato chips (+water) over sports drink, but it does not seem to be a recognized option for post-workout recovery.

Certainly, I think for intra-workout hydration, sports drinks might be better, less loggy, but what about post-workout? Does potato chips have a bad reputation from the old days, or is there a genuine reason for avoiding it.

  • It depends on the type of cardio being performed. The demands on your body (and what you need to recover properly) will be different between LISS and HIIT. This will be even more (or less) depending on how long the cardio session. More nutritious ingestion is always the better option.
    – AKDiscer
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 18:45

2 Answers 2


It does depend on the intensity and duration of your cardio workout. Potatoes are starchy which takes longer to digest and takes longer to replenish those lost carbs. If you are doing back-to-back high intensity workouts i'd suggest the sports drink for quicker replenishment. This becomes a non-factor after a night or day of rest(or even around 6 hours depending what you read).

In general: if you need carbs now, sports drink. If not, it doesn't really matter then. As always make sure your diet is balanced and nutritious.

P.S.if you want to get really technical about quality of carbs research the glycemic index.


One of the difference between nutrients and sport drinks is that sport drinks are designed in such a way that most of them have approximately %6 Carbs which is the best rate of absorption by the metabolism. On the other hand, it is very difficult to arrange quantity the nutrients such as %6 Carbs from potato chips.

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