The Truth About Sports Drinks

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I live near a high school and the start of the school year inevitably brings more traffic to my neighbourhood. The other morning, while walking my dog, I passed a young man on his way to school. He was guzzling a Gatorade, at 7:30 in the morning.

I wonder if he thinks Garorade is healthy?  Many people think these sport drinks are good for them thanks to aggressive marketing that relates these beverages to athletic performance.

But the fact is, a bottle of this drink contains 35g of sugar. That’s almost 3 tablespoons in a single serving.

Granted, there have been studies showing that carbohydrates-laden sports drinks help athletic performance[12]. Which makes sense since carbs provide fuel for exercise. In this case the carbohydrate comes in the form of sucrose and dextrose. Your body absorbs this type of sugar very quickly, which results in a relatively immediate energy boost.

But the benefits end there.

We do know that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages leads to an increase risk of type 2 diabetes [3], obesity [4], non-alcoholic fatty liver disease [5], and cardiovascular disease [6]. We know consumption of sports drinks specifically leads to an increase in BMI[7] and that adolescents accessibility to them also leads to higher BMI [8]. So why are parents still willing to buy these for their kids? And let them drink it for breakfast?

So what if a parent only gives sports drinks to their kids when they are participating in athletic activities?  Most children aren't highly trained endurance athletes, running 15 km time trials in the heat - those people might benefit from the electrolytes or whatever else Gatorade claims to provide. But I should point out that Gatorade doesn't supply the ideal form of carbohydrates and electrolytes nor does it provide nearly enough of them.

Alternatively, you can make your own sports/electrolyte beverage. Here is a great recipe. 

The takeaway: A child attending gym class or playing a game of hockey should stick to water. As should everyone.

If you have any questions about how you can reach your greatness, don't hesitate to book an appointment, contact me, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake

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