Are Sports Drinks Healthy?

We think not.




Here´s why you Shouldn´t  Count on Sports Drinks to Stay Hydrated

Sports drinks are often touted as healthy and the ideal way to prevent dehydration. Many claim to hydrate the body “better” than water, and now, many contain a host of novel ingredients including vitamins, herbs, and caffeine, which claim to boost athletic performance. But are sports drinks more effective in hydrating the body than water?

Make no mistake—sports drinks are adult Kool-Aid with some sodium and, in some instances, potassium added. Sports drinks are loaded with sugar, and many athletes find them overwhelming when consumed during an event or exercise. Many commercial sports drinks are flavored (and colored) with chemicals and sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, a simple sugar that can cause fluctuations in blood sugar.

sport drinks healthyThe most common complaints with sports drinks is stomach upset and a “mucous-y” or “gagging” sensation in the back of the throat. Electrolytes—not sugar—support hydration to the cellular level, and with sports drinks, you will max out on sugar before you’re adequately hydrated.

If you compared the grams of sugar (carbs) found in a typical 16- oz. serving of several leading brands of sports drinks with the carb content found in your average Tootsie Roll (caramel toffee candies), you would discover the following:

  • Gatorade® contains 100 calories and 28 grams of carbs, which is equivalent to 13 Tootsie Rolls.
  • Powerade® contains 34 grams of carbs, equivalent to 16 Tootsie Rolls.
  • Endurox R-4 (Fruit Punch) contains 360 calories and 69 grams of carbs, equal to 33 Tootsie Rolls.

Incidentally, a 16 oz.- serving of Kool-Aid* provides roughly the same amount of calories and carbs per ounce as sports drinks (120 calories and 32 grams of carbs, roughly equivalent to 15 Tootsie Rolls), yet it also provides ten percent of the RDA for vitamin C.

The sugar content alone restricts the use of sports drinks for people with diabetes, which is highly telling. Besides the effect of sports drinks on blood-sugar levels, the long-term effects of the sweeteners, colouring agents, and other chemicals in sports drinks is not known, but some recent research does raise some questions. A 2005 study published in General Dentistry reported that some popular sports and energy drinks destroyed tooth enamel more effectively than cola. The study, which analyzed the effects of exposed dental enamel to 12 different brands of soft drinks, non-cola, and sports beverages, found that irreversible enamel damage was three to eleven times greater among the non-cola and sports beverages than cola-based drinks.

A second limitation of sports drinks is their electrolyte balance. Many claim to contain electrolytes to replace sweat losses, but the fact is, the primary electrolytes these beverages contain are sodium and potassium, and that’s it. Most people already get too much sodium from foods. The electrolyte content of Gatorade is 220 mg of sodium and 60 mg of potassium, based on a 16 oz. serving size. Powerade contains 110 mg of sodium and 60 mg of potassium. Gatorade’s latest product introduction, Endurance, which claims to have five electrolytes, contains a whopping 400 mg of sodium and 180 mg of potassium. What about the other electrolytes? Calcium and magnesium are mentioned; however, Endurance provides less than two percent of the Daily Value for these two critical electrolytes.

A balance of ALL electrolytes is necessary to maintain optimal hydration and endurance. Not only do you lose sodium in sweat, but you also lose other critical electrolytes like magnesium, and since most people don’t get enough magnesium, serious deficits can be occurring.

The bottom line is don’t count on plain water and sports drinks to meet your body’s hydration and electrolyte needs. Plain water (including bottled “mineral waters”) doesn’t contain a substantial quantity or balance of the essential electrolytes you require to stay adequately hydrated, replace electrolytes lost in sweat, and maintain optimum performance. As for sports drinks, the high-sugar content of most of these beverages often causes bloating, stomach cramps, and can impair your hard-fought training and performance at the moment when it may matter the most.

elete Holistic Hydrate is an electrolyte add-in you add to water or any other beverage to make an instant sports drink. It provides pure electrolytes and nothing else. elete Holistic Hydrate powers rapid hydration and quickly replaces ALL lost electrolytes—not just sodium. It supports performance, stamina, and recovery, and delivers electrolytes evenly to ensure optimal hydration. elete allows you, the user, the option of consuming carbohydrates in whatever way works best for you. And unlike sugar-loaded sports drinks, elete doesn’t contain calories, flavourings, sweeteners, colours or sugar, which can hinder performance.

This post is also available in: Spanish