Sports drinks and their effect on your body

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We all know that advertisements play a huge role in how we as consumers purchase products. We see superstar athletes like JJ Watt, Michael Jordan, and Serena Williams hydrating with Gatorade and suddenly we feel the need to get an electrolyte boost of our own. But are sports drinks good for you? And are they really the best option for hydration?

With so many of the world’s most fit people promoting these drinks, you would think they would certainly have some health benefits. The intent of sports drinks is to provide electrolytes, calories, and carbohydrates to help you recover from workouts more quickly. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average child’s workout is not strenuous enough to require electrolyte replenishment. Now children are simply consuming these extra calories that can lead to obesity and have no real health benefit.  The American Heart Association recently posted an article stating that nearly one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese. While these sports drinks are not the only cause, they certainly do not help the situation.

On top of extra calories, sports drinks are also packed full of sugar and are almost always acidic. Acid and sugar are huge culprits in the erosion of tooth enamel leading to dental decay.

You may be wondering how much sugar is actually in a sports drink. A 12 oz. serving of Gatorade contains 21 grams of sugar where a 12 oz. can of Sprite contains 38 grams of sugar. Four grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon. Therefore Gatorade has 5.25 teaspoons in 12 oz. where Sprite has 9.5 teaspoons in the same amount. It is somewhat alarming to see how similar the sugar levels actually are between the two. Yet somehow it would seem odd to see an athlete drink a Sprite on the sidelines, but is completely expected that he would drink a Gatorade.

Despite what famous endorsers say, our recommendation is to drink water. Water has no acid, no sugar, and no extra calories. Seems like a perfect choice! If a sports drink is the only option, we suggest a lower sugar alternative like Gatorade Zero (which contains no sugar) or G2. A 12 oz. serving of G2 contains 7.5 grams of sugar. That comes out to less than 2 teaspoons per serving.

To read more from the American Heart Association regarding overweight in children:http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/ChildhoodObesity/Overweight-in-Children_UCM_304054_Article.jsp#.Wyq7klVKiUk

To read more from the American Academy of Pediatrics about consumption of sports drinks vs. soda: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Teen-Consumption-of-Sports-Drinks-Increases-At-a-Time-When-Soda-Consumption-Falls.aspx

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