Are Sports Drinks GOOD for You?

Quote: "Sickness comes on horseback but departs on foot."  - Dutch Proverb

We have all seen the adverts of television for sports drinks endorsed by athletes saying it is the key to their success.

Sports Drinks

The question is, do you need a sports drink to stay hydrated and improve performance, or is it just a ploy to get us the public to buy and consume a product?

Do you Need a Sports Drink?

Back in the 1991 when Gatorade was heavily marketed to the public, the catch cry was “be like Mike’ and “keep hydrated” and “replace lost electrolytes”.  We the public drank the kool aid and sports drinks became the norm for the public.

Do you really need a sports drink?  That depends on the duration and type of exercise you are performing and the amount of sweat you lose.  According to the Harvard Health Blog the majority of us that exercise less than one hour at a time only need to drink water to stay hydrated.

It is only those people that are exercising for greater than one hour where the carbohydrates (simple sugars) are required to give the body additional energy and the electrolytes (sodium and potassium) are to replace the salt in the body lost through sweating.

An endurance athlete can suffer from hyponatremia when there is too little sodium in the body caused by drinking too much water.  A study carried out by Harvard-based researchers found that 13% of marathon runners had suffered a degree of hyponatremia regardless of whether a sports drink was or was not consumed during a marathon.

How a Sports Drink can NEGATIVELY affect your Health

If you are a teenager that consumes sports drinks, the simple processed sugars can wear the enamel down on your teeth and cause tooth decay.

If your goal is to lose weight and look good for that special occasion, the high amounts of processed simple sugars will provide additional calories for the body that it does not need making it more difficult to lose that excess body fat.

If a sports drink is consumed many times over a long period, it can lead to weight gain, obesity and you also risk the onset of developing type two diabetes.

The FIVE BEST Recommendations when using Sports Drinks

  • If you are an endurance athlete training over one hour under high physical exertion, then yes a sports drink can benefit you.
  • If you decide to use a sports drink make sure you do your homework, not all sports drinks are created equal, click here to find out what to look for in a sports drink.
  • Make your own sports drink by mixing a slice of lemon or lime with some water and consume with a banana.
  • If you are just wanting to stay fit and healthy, a sports drink is not required, drinking water is highly recommended.
  • If in doubt get advice from your health professional.
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