Fact or Myth: Are Sports Drinks are Better for You Than Soda or Energy Drinks

This is a MYTH.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends fluid replacement for every 15 minutes of exercise. Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are plugged as the most efficient way to stay hydrated and energized with electrolytes before, during, and after exercise. Not to mention, they are a far tastier option than plain water. Don’t let your taste buds trick you. Sports drinks are loaded with sugar, actually slow hydration, cause irreversible damage to your teeth, and lead to steady weight gain over time.

sports drinksSugar Strain

A 32 oz sports drink taxes your system with over 50 grams of sugar! Sugar is nothing more than a simple carbohydrate that spikes your blood sugar levels and stimulates fat storage. Unless you are an endurance athlete participating in a vigorous training session of more than an hour, a sports drink does nothing more than contribute to weight gain due to excessive caloric intake (200 calories per 32 oz to be exact!).

Think those 32 oz will quench your thirst? Think again! The high sugar and salt content of sports drinks actually makes you feel thirstier so you continue to reach for the bottle and take in more calories! If you’re running a marathon, those calories might be worthwhile, but if you’re casually sipping a sports drink, those calories are doing more harm than good.

Pulverized Pearly Whites

Sports drinks are highly acidic. Combine that with sugar overload and artificial coloring and flavoring, and sports drinks can damage tooth enamel, cause cavities, and induce gum recession. The American Council on Exercise reports that drinking sports drinks leads to more tooth decay than drinking sodas and energy drinks. The journal General Dentistry published a study that found that tooth enamel begins decaying just five days after consistent consumption of sports drinks. If you must indulge in sports drinks, be sure to follow with a water chaser to clear away the residue and help protect your teeth!

Hyponatremia

Hyponatremia, or over-hydration, is an electrolyte disturbance that occurs when sodium levels in the blood are abnormally low.  The symptoms of hyponatremia are similar to those of dehydration, and misdiagnosis is common. The high concentration of sodium in sports drinks provides no protection against hyponatremia. In fact, Harvard researchers found that 13% of marathoners suffered from over-hydration, and those who drank sports drinks were just as likely to exhibit symptoms as those who drank only water. The added sodium in sports drinks actually has an adverse effect, and can elevate blood pressure and increase heart disease risk.

Energizing Electrolytes

Sports drinks are indeed high in electrolytes like sodium and potassium that provide a burst of energy during intense workouts and prevent cramping and weakness; however, these electrolytes do not offset the high sugar content of sports drinks. It’s best to fuel with electrolytes in the form of whole foods before and after a workout. Bananas are high in potassium, olives are rich in chloride, milk fills you up with calcium, a bagel with peanut butter provides your sodium, and leafy greens impart a healthy dose of magnesium.

Charge Your Workouts

Fuel your workouts with protein shakes, and balance hydration with water. If you miss the taste of those artificially flavored sports drinks, sprinkle in some orange, lemon, or mint to flavor your water with zest!

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