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Do Sports Drinks Really Work … and are They Healthy?


We won’t mention any names, but one of the country’s leading sports drinks claims its “unique blend of fluid, electrolytes and carbohydrates has been shown time and again to be an optimal hydrator, keeping athletes at the top of their game.”

water bottle

If you fill your sports bottle with a sports drink, you could be downing a whole lot of high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial color and calories … and not a whole lot else.

Among its benefits, the sports drink’s web site says, are a special blend of sodium, potassium and chloride that replenishes minerals lost through sweat, along with electrolytes to help regulate a number of body functions.

But a closer inspection of the sports drink label reveals ingredients that are arguably not healthy at all. Among them high-fructose corn syrup, listed as the #2 ingredient after water, sucrose syrup (a sugar solution) and yellow 5, an artificial food coloring.

What’s Wrong With These Ingredients?

Most people drinking sports drinks do so because they think they’re a healthy way to rehydrate after a sports game or workout.

But downing most sports drinks is akin to downing a few cans of soda. For starters, using the ingredients from the sports drink label mentioned earlier, is high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener that may be worse for you than sugar.

When glucose is consumed, a set of reactions occur in your body allowing it to be used as energy, and production of leptin, a hormone that helps control appetite and fat storage, is increased. Meanwhile, ghrelin, a stomach hormone, is reduced, which is thought to help hunger go away.

When fructose is consumed, however, it "appears to behave more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body weight regulation," explains Peter Havel, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis. "Fructose doesn't stimulate insulin secretion. It doesn't increase leptin production or suppress production of ghrelin. That suggests that consuming a lot of fructose, like consuming too much fat, could contribute to weight gain."

Many experts have, in fact, suggested that HFCS, particularly those in sweetened drinks, are at least partly responsible for the obesity epidemic in America.

Next, most sports drinks contain even more added sugar, which may give you a burst of energy in the short-term but will inevitably be followed by a major crash.

Yellow 5, meanwhile, which gives this particular sports drink its characteristic bright yellow glow, can cause allergic reactions, primarily in people sensitive to aspirin.

Also, research has shown that sports drinks can erode tooth enamel, even more so than carbonated cola products, especially if you sip them for long periods of time.

Drinking Sports Drinks May Negate Your Entire Workout

If you’re running a marathon or engaging in some other type of extremely intense exercise for a long period of time, the extra calories, sugar and electrolytes in a sports drink may be justifiable.

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But for the average gym-goer or child in sports after school, water is sufficient to rehydrate your body.

“Unless they’re running marathons, which we do not recommend for kids, water is the best choice for quenching their thirst,” Harvard sociologist Steven Gortmaker told the Chicago Tribune.

Further, a typical 20-ounce sports drink contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar and 130 calories, which is more calories than you might burn off during your workout. For the sports drink we examined above, the label lists 14g of sugar for one-quarter of the bottle. If you drink the whole bottle, as many do after a workout, you’re downing 56g of sugar!

And according to Joanna Dolgoff, a child and adolescent weight-management expert, in the Chicago Tribune, drinking one sports drink a day for one year could cause you to gain 13 pounds!

Two Superior Options to Quench Your Thirst During or After a Workout

Drinking water is one of the best ways to quench your thirst before, during and after a workout. Experts typically recommend drinking an additional two to three cups of water within two hours of finishing your workout. You should then keep drinking water regularly, as even if you don't feel thirsty it's still quite possible to be dehydrated.

How To Filter Your Water On-The-Go (Office, Club, Gym, Etc.)

One of the BEST options to have healthy, pure water with you when you’re at the gym is to be able to refill-filter your water on the go, and the Wellness H2.0 allows you to do that!

The Wellness H2.0 combines the convenience of portable filtering water via this exclusive bottle filtering system without the BPA or waste and with superior water quality; it is the next generation of TOP QUALITY Water Convenience!

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This is the only bottle on the market to produce nourishing, better-than-bottled-quality, "enhanced" water without the cost or waste associated with bottled water -- yet with the convenience of bottled water that so many love. With the Wellness H2.0, you can have superior quality water no matter where you are, just fill up and go!

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If you want something a bit more exciting than plain water, you can carry and add squeezed lemon or lime to your water. Or we highly recommend you give CoCo Energy a try.

CoCo Energy is made with coconut water, which is a Natural Isotonic Beverage -- it has the same level we have in our blood, thus does not have an adverse affect on blood sugar or pressure. Coconut water contains more potassium (at about 294 mg) than most sports drinks (117 mg) and most energy drinks. It also has less sodium (25mg) whereas sports drinks have around 41mg and energy drinks have about 200 mg!

CoCo Energy is a 100 percent natural drink with no preservatives and no artificial flavors or colors -- and it comes in a powdered form that’s easy to take with you. Just add it to your water bottle, give it a shake, and you’ll have a healthy and tasty beverage to keep you hydrated.

They’re Offering FREE SHIPPING when you buy 6 or more (limited time offer).

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If you still want to give a typical sports drink a try, be sure you read the label before you buy. If your “healthy” sports drink is nothing more than high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, water, and artificial flavors and colors, you’re probably better off saving your money.

Recommended Reading

14 Things to do if You Feel Tired and Sore After Working Out

The 6 Top Dangers of Energy Drinks, and 5 Healthy Energy-Boosting Alternatives

Sources September 16, 2009 Effectiveness of Sports Drinks

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