The Pros and Cons of Sports Drinks

The term “Sports Drink” has come to be a phrase that represents health, wellness, and fitness. While the vitamins and nutrients offered by these refreshing drinks are indeed good for your body, there are some cons included in those bottles, as well.

Sports drinks are available in every color and flavor imaginable. The taste has been improved to the point that some people enjoy them regularly, rather than only after sports. 

The downsides to sports drinks may outweigh the upsides depending on how often you consume this type of beverage. Here, you will see both the pros and cons of sports drinks. After reading, it will be up to you to decide what you think of them. 

The Positive Side of Sports Drinks 

Sports Drinks are great for replenishing the fluids lost during exercise. The reason giant jugs of popular sports drink brands are found on the sidelines of top sports leagues is that they are designed to replace the hydration lost through sweat. 

During exercise or athletic competitions, the body loses high volumes of vitamins, nutrients, and fluid. Your body needs these items to function properly. The popular brands of sports drinks, like Gatorade or Powerade, offer vitamin and nutrient replenishment that will kickstart your return to proper hydration. 

Sports Drinks are a nice diversion from drinking plain water. The best way to simply hydrate is to drink water. Lots of it. Experts estimate that men need almost a gallon of water per day and women should be drinking about three-quarters of a gallon each day. That is a lot of water!

Many people struggle to get the appropriate amount daily because they get tired of drinking boring water. For those who want to spice it up, an occasional sports drink can help keep hydrating rather than avoiding drinking.

Sports Drinks come in sugar-free options. The majority of sports drinks use sugar as a sweetener and to provide energy for athletes. However, there are options available for those who would prefer to skip the caloric and glycemic impact sugar has on the body.  Sugar-free sports drinks are a great option for those who are consuming a sports drink as a water replacement. This will limit the negative impacts sports drinks can have.

Sports Drinks help provide carbohydrates during exercise. The word “carbs” has become a dirty one due to several popular fad diets. Research shows that carbohydrates are vital to the pre-, during, and post-workout performance of your body. Sports drinks provide some of these important carbohydrates during workouts that can help with performance and recovery. 

Sports Drinks are far easier to digest than solid foods. Liquid digests faster than solid food products. Getting energy from a protein or health bar can put your performance at risk and can take to long to process the nutrients needed for energy. 

Eating during workouts in inconvenient, messy, and can lead to gastrointestinal distress. Taking a sip of a sports drink is a much easier way to ingest some vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. 

Sports Drinks are readily available and easy to carry. Any food and beverage retailer has an aisle full of sports drinks. The convenience of grabbing one on the way out the door makes them ideal for the gym or game.

The Negative Side of Sports Drinks 

Sports Drinks can be hard on your teeth. The citric acid found in sports drinks can be harmful to the enamel that protects your teeth. Combined with an already dry mouth lacking typical saliva production, the drink can cling to your teeth and wreak havoc. 

The sugar in many sports drinks is also harmful. Sugar combines with a typically beneficial bacteria in your mouth and causes enamel breakdown. Thus, sports drinks are potentially dangerous to your teeth in multiple ways. 

Sports Drinks can lead to eliminating water. Many people feel a sports drink is warranted during or after every workout. This is untrue. Sports drinks are ideal for someone who has put in a minimum of 45 minutes of strenuous activity like running or a sport like soccer. 

For those who are lifting weights or getting in a quick “sweat session”, water is the ideal way to stay hydrated. A sports drink should be reserved for more aggressive exercise periods. 

Sports Drinks often contain extremely high amounts of sugar. Many of the top sports drink brands contain the same sugar as a can of soda. The reason for including it is simple: taste. While a sports drink that tastes good is ideal, the sugar content may not be worth it in the long run. 

Increased sugar intake can lead to a myriad of health issues. Weight gain, diabetes, and blood pressure issues are all linked to excessive sugar in diets. Obviously, one sports drink will not send you into a diabetic coma but indulging in them too frequently can add up. 

Sports Drinks can contain caffeine. Many sports drinks, especially those geared toward energy production, contain the same caffeine as a coffee or soda. If you are susceptible to the side effects of caffeine, this can lead to a performance deficit. 

It is also important to be aware of the amount of caffeine to prevent sleep issues. A loss of sleep can be detrimental to exercise performance and athletic success.

Sports drinks may not live up to their high expectations. The companies who make these beverages are elite marketers. Some claims are otherworldly, like the ability to improve performance. 

Outside of keeping your energy and hydration up, there is little to no science behind these claims. Consumers should always be wary of claims that seem too good to be true. 

Sports drinks are often misused. We learned that these drinks can have negative impacts on your teeth and body. Unfortunately, their perceived “healthiness” leads many people to consume them as part of a healthy lifestyle. 

It is important to remember that these drinks are only effective as a vitamin and nutrient replacement product after long periods of intense exercise. Otherwise, the negatives will exponentially outweigh the positives. Avoid consuming sports drinks for daily energy needs or as a frequent water replacement. 

Sports drinks can get expensive. If you find yourself drinking one or more of these drinks every day, you could be harming your budget along with your body. The average cost of a sports drink adds up to almost $30 a week for someone drinking two per day. 

The Decision is Yours 

Responsible consumption of sports drinks can be part of an overall healthy lifestyle. The ability to quickly replenish vitamins, minerals, and fluids lost during exercise is ideal after an especially hard work out. Athletes are the perfect candidates to be appropriate sports drink consumers. 

For those who walk rather than run, sports drinks may have far more cons than pros. At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide if your lifestyle and exercise habits support the consumption of sports drinks.