Preoperative Carbohydrate Loading: Four Reasons Sports Drinks Don’t Cut it for Enhanced Recovery

Preoperative Carbohydrate Loading: Four Reasons Sports Drinks Don’t Cut it for Enhanced Recovery

When first learning about preoperative carbohydrate loading and its role in enhanced recovery after surgery, many medical professionals think, “Carb loading? Hydration? Sports drinks do that!” Well, not exactly—in fact, sports drinks don’t check any of the boxes needed for better patient outcomes. Today, we’ll cover:

  • The reasons sports drinks don’t work for enhanced recovery, including:
    • They contain zero complex carbs, (preop carb-loading with complex carbs is a key component part of any ERAS® program)
    • The have high osmolarity (which leads to delayed gastric emptying)
    • They contain colored dyes (ClearFast is clear and colorless)
    • Providers aren’t protected (Unlike ClearFast, sports drink companies will not support off-label use in the case of an insurance claim)

Now, let’s dig in…

It’s a pretty common mindset to think that sports drinks will work for pre-op carb loadingone that even the most seasoned medical pros may have—when your ERAS® program is in its infancy. But, while it’s alluring to think you’ve solved a major problem with an inexpensive household beverage, sports drinks actually aren’t a solution for enhanced recovery at all.

Today, we’re breaking down what you need to look for in the right pre surgery drink for your patients. Read on for our top four reasons sugary sports drinks don’t cut it when it comes to safe and effective preop carb loading.

  1. They Contain ZERO Complex Carbs

Sports drinks are sugar water. True preoperative carbohydrate loading is one of the key components of any ERAS® program—but its benefits are all tied to complex carbs, not simple sugars. This is a key difference between typical sports drinks and the ClearFast presurgery drink. Sports drinks contain zero complex carbs and, as such, don’t actually act as presurgery nutrition at all. In order to meet the pre-op nutrition and hydration recommendations of the ASA®, preop carb loading should always be done with complex carbohydrate-rich beverages that contain primarily maltodextrins, not simple sugars like the fructose found in household sports drinks. With preop nutrition benefits tied directly to 45+ grams of complex carbs, ClearFast contains 50 full grams of complex carbs and is the only domestically produced beverage of this type used in Enhanced Recovery Protocols in luminary hospitals across the U.S.

  1. They Have High Osmolarity

Osmolarity affects gastric emptying times, and higher osmolarity can mean delayed emptying. The normal osmolarity of tissues, cells and fluids in the human body is around 280-300 mOsm. A typical sports drink has an osmolarity of around 330 mOsm, which can lead to delayed gastric emptying. ClearFast, on the other hand, has an ideal osmolarity of 270 mOsm and is formulated to safely clear from the stomach in around 90 minutes, making it an ideal choice for preoperative carbohydrate loading.

  1. They Contain Colored Dyes

The research on this one is essentially unanimous: the benefits of hydrating and nourishing before surgery preoperative carbohydrate loading are tied to three main things: complex carbs, a minimal amount of simple sugars, and NO colored dyes. Dyes can mimic the appearance of internal bleeding which can cause a surgeon to immediately stop the procedure. While nearly every single sports drink on the market contains colored dyes, ClearFast is completely clear and colorless.

  1. Providers Aren’t Protected in the Case of “Off-Label Use”

Unlike ClearFast, sports drink companies will not support off-label use in the case of an insurance claim. This means providers will not be protected when recommending sports drinks for preoperative carbohydrate loading, as these drinks are not insured for presurgery use, and sports drinks companies do not advocate for their product’s use as a preop drink.

Overall, while well-meaning physicians may jump to sports drinks as a solution when first researching preop drinks for their Enhanced Recovery Program, the unfortunate truth is these beverages do nothing to improve patient outcomes…not to mention the fact they don’t satisfy the ASA® guidelines for clear liquids. Saving your hospital a few dollars doesn’t really matter in the long run if you’re not ultimately solving problems and improving outcomes. ClearFast, unlike popular sports drinks, is precisely formulated for presurgery use—it contains 50 grams of complex carbs, is clear and colorless, has ideal osmolarity, is safe and is used by hundreds of thousands of patients.

Ready to improve outcomes for both patients and your hospital? Recommending ClearFast for preoperative carbohydrate loading is a simple solution that can solve an array of patient problems. Order your ClearFast Preop Drink here, or reach out to the ClearFast team at support@drinkcf.com if you have any questions at all.

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