Sports Drinks Versus Water Back »

Sports Drinks are commonly what many professional, collegiate, and youth athletes turn to in order to hydrate after a workout. However, before you pick up that sports drink, it is important to be aware of what you would be consuming. If we dig into some of the common sports drink facts, you might find that good ol’ fashioned water is a better option.

Benefits of Water

Water is a key nutrient for activities of daily living and helps fuel your workout or sports event. Water has been shown to be a great choice for re-hydration for casual sports and most competitions. For optional athletic performance, individuals should be well hydrated prior to competition and replace fluids during competition as well as after. For more information on water consumption, read Hydrate: Before, During & After.

Drawbacks of Sports Drinks

Sports drinks were created by industry leaders to help athletes replace water and nutrients after an intense workout. They come in many enticing flavors like Artic Freeze, Rain-berry, Mountain Berry Blast, or Fruit Punch. However, it is important to take a close look at what each of those drinks contain. Research notes that unless you are participating in a high-intensity athletic activity for more than 60 – 90 minutes, you do not need an energy source in the fluids you drink. Research has found that there is no significant difference in athletic performance when consuming water as compared to a sport drink for those competitions lasting less than one hour. 

Nutritional Considerations

Data indicate that those who consume more sugar-sweetened beverages tend to have an increased weight as compared to those who consume less sugar-sweetened beverages. In fact, sport drinks account for 16% of calories consumed and are 36% of the added sugars in the diet. If you look at this table provided by Central Washington University, you will notice that some of the most popular sport drinks contain high amounts of sugars like high fructose corn syrup and sucrose. If you are exercising for a long duration, or in multiple games one following another, choose a sport drink which has less than eight percent total solids; this would be carbohydrates and electrolytes.

Next time you go to quench your thirst, take an extra second to evaluate if it is better to drink a sugar filled sports drink, or a nice glass of ice cold water.

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