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Healthy Eating

Here you will find tons of information about healthy eating and incorporating the principles of healthy nutrition into your daily life. Built around Dr. Cederquist’s nutritional foundation for healthy weight loss, these articles place a wealth of information right at your fingertips.

Should You Trade Your Sports Drink for Water?

During or following a workout, you may reach for a Gatorade or other water enhancers with good intentions. But are sports drinks good for you and do they offer any sort of benefit?

Should You Trade Your Sports Drink for Water?

Hydration is key and equally as important as the actual workout when it comes to recovering properly and reaping the greatest benefits. And during and following a workout, you may be reaching for a Gatorade or other marketed water enhancers with good intentions. But are sports drinks good for you and do they offer any sort of benefit?

The Truth About Sports Drinks

Published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Deborah Cohen investigated "the truth about sports drinks," linking the sports drinks industry with academia that helped to market the science of hydration. The piece insinuates although sports drinks are advertised as an essential tool for exercise performance, evidence lacks to support such a view. Much of the hype of sports drinks also relates to marketing woos and advertisements, with BMJ further indicating companies started sponsoring scientists to carry out research on hydration that eventually trickled into guidelines and recommendations, which were then carried out by active consumers. And even in the absence of exercise, advertisements surrounding enhanced water and sports beverages may confusingly lead us the general population to believe tap water is missing essential ingredients that hydrate our bodies. Nonetheless, most sports drinks supply an average of 100 to 200 calories strictly from sugar, along with electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.

Sports Drinks vs. Water: What Should You Opt for?

Opting for a sports drink or water is dependent on a number of factors, though there is no denying pure water is the drink of choice for maintaining hydration day-in and day-out. And as a general rule of thumb, the overall population should consume at least 64-ounces of water daily. Additional considerations detail regular exercisers and athletes should drink 16 ounces of water leading up to activity, along with six to 12 ounces immediately prior to exercise and every 15 to 20 minutes of active training.

Nevertheless, sports drinks should not be rejected or excluded entirely, as they certainly can and do have their time in place. Sports nutrition experts recommend athletes to include 30 to 60 grams of carb in the form of sports drinks, solids, and gels if exercising for more than one hour or in hot and humid conditions. Doing so helps delay muscle fatigue and offers extra energy to keep athletes powered during a long exercise duration. Sports drinks balances electrolytes to keep the body working efficiently and reduce the risk of muscle cramps, headaches, and nausea.

Pouring Out the Verdict

While sports drinks can inspire proper hydration, they certainly are not for everyone. Particularly if not exercising and sweating for over an hour’s time, go for water to keep hydrated and combat the possibility of weight gain. Additionally, even athletes do not have to solely rely on on sports drinks for long-duration exercise, as a number of foods can also help replenish electrolytes and offer valuable nutrients that are likely not included in sports drink, including chocolate milk, yogurt, bananas, apricots, leafy greens, beans, avocados, raisins, and dates. All-in-all, and if quick and extra carbs and electrolytes are warranted, a sports drink can be a convenient and accessible selection!

Christy Zagarella's Photo
Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on May 17, 2018.


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