Sports drinks not beneficial for most: study

Jan 31, 2014 | News

By Natalie Hanniman

What drink do you reach for during a workout? 

A study by the CBC reveals the average person doesn’t benefit from drinking sports drinks.

Though sports drinks are promoted for their ability to help athletes refuel and replenish what was lost during a work out, they contain high amounts of sugar and sodium which is counteractive.

“It depends on the exercise that someone is doing for it to be worthwhile. For endurance athletes that burn a lot of carbohydrates during exercise it’s recommended,” said Vince Lucente, a certified personal trainer. “If you’re doing moderate intensity exercise for a short period of time it’s not really recommended, it’s good for someone to drink water.”

A 591 millilitre bottle of Gatorade Fruit Punch has 34 grams of sugar and 270 milligrams of sodium, the same amount of sodium as a medium french fries from McDonalds.

“I believe they are drinking extra calories they may not necessarily use or need that may result in storing these calories as fat if they drink them when they don’t need it,” said Kaitlin Rutledge, personal trainer and national strength and conditioning coach.

Kids and Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are being advertised to young people as a healthy alternative to sugary soda. Children are being targeted by the sports drink companies by using popular athletes and idols like Sidney Crosby and Tiger Woods.

The Canadian Paediatric Society only recommends sports drinks for activities longer than 60 minutes or activities performed in high temperatures and humidity. For anything less than an hour water is sufficient.

Lucente recommends a more healthy, natural replacement artificially sweetened sports drinks.

“Coconut water is great because it’s high in electrolytes and it doesn’t have nearly as much sugar. It has a lot of sodium and potassium.”

“For non-athletes, routine ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks can result in consumption of excessive calories, increasing the risks of overweight and obesity, as well as dental caries and, therefore, should be avoided,” according to the Canadian Paediatric Society.

However, the Canadian Beverage Association said in a statement, “hydration is essential for good health, and science shows that the water, carbohydrates and electrolytes in sports drinks provide significant hydration and athletic performance benefits for active individuals.”