Are Sports Drinks just fancy water?

I know… You’ve been using – and swearing by – Sports Drinks like Gatorade, Powerade and Lucozade to replenish your electrolytes following your workout. But a new investigation by CBC’s Marketplace consumer advocacy show raises some big questions…

Sports Drinks - © functionhealthandfitness.comSports Drinks: There are literally  dozens to chose from…

Marketplace asks: Are expensive sports drinks worth the money?

The original replenishment drink – Gatorade – was created for the Florida U. Gators football team by university researchers who wanted to help give their team an edge. They postulated that college football players, giving their all on the gridiron, were losing not only water (through perspiration) but salt and electrolytes (essential minerals) during a game. What better way to help than invent a drink that puts right back in what your system lets leak out? And why not add some fast-digesting sugar (like glucose), too, for energy?

The stuff seemed to work and the idea of ‘replenishing drinks’ caught on big time.

Soon, the copycats got on the bandwagon. Today, Wikipedia lists 17 major brands of sports drinks, all apparently thriving in the marketplace.

Problem is…

Marketplace says its research shows that the average person – even those who work out every day – doesn’t work up enough of a sweat to lose enough electrolytes to warrant replenishing with a high-powered, high-priced sports drink. And to make matters worse, the average exercising Joe might get what amounts to an overdose of some minerals (such as sodium and potassium), not to mention salt and sugar.

In fact, you’d have to exercise hard for at least an hour and a half straight before you got to the point where you needed anything replenished.

What to do?

Forget the fancy ‘hydrators’ and ‘replenishers’ – unless you exercise hard, more than 90 minutes at a time. The doctors agree, you’re just as well off taking plain water before, during and after exercising.

Now… Don’t get me started on the ‘Spring Water vs. Filtered water vs. Tap Water’ question. That’s for another time…

~ Maggie J.