When Are Sports Drinks Appropriate For Hydration latest 2023

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Sports Drinks Vs Water – The Ugly Truth

Lucozade, Powerade, Gatorade…

In the 21st century, energy drink ads are everywhere. You can no longer turn on the television or open a magazine without seeing an advertisement for these glorified potions. It seems like these drinks are taking over the fitness world, and you just need to visit your local gym to see how popular they are.

So what are these so-called “sports drinks” really and what do they claim to do?

A sports drink is a drink designed to boost energy levels, replace electrolytes, and keep you hydrated. So let’s see how they claim to do this:

Increase energy levels

Sports drinks are full of sugar – A 500ml bottle of Lucozade Energy contains 21 teaspoons of sugar! To put that into perspective, a can of Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. When these sports drinks are consumed, our body converts all the sugar into glucose which is released into our bloodstream. This glucose provides our body with energy – it’s what gives us that “alert” feeling.

The problem is that glucose is a very short-lived source of energy and has adverse effects on the body. When we drink sports drinks, our body must produce large amounts of insulin to help our cells absorb glucose from our bloodstream. Any excess glucose is then converted to fat in our liver and deposited in our cells. Insulin also inhibits the breakdown of fats in our body. Both of these factors promote fat accumulation and are counterproductive when considering why people are at the gym!

The counter-argument to this is that sports drinks provide you with the energy you need to perform an intense workout – which provides benefits that far outweigh the negative effects of the sports drink. Well, I say that’s a terrible argument, and here’s why..

The average person who visits the gym performs moderate-intensity exercises for about 30 minutes. Let’s say the chosen exercise is running, in which case it will burn around 250-400 calories during its session. Now imagine that they consume a 500ml bottle of Lucozade Sport, which contains 140 calories. That’s about half of the total calories they burn by being at the gym, just by consuming an energy drink. Thus, every 10 minutes of running, they only burn 5 minutes of calories…

What makes matters worse is the sugar in the sports drink – which is bad for two reasons.

1. As explained earlier, the consumption of sugar causes an increase in insulin levels, which promotes the accumulation of fat in our body.

2. When glucose is readily available in our bloodstream, our cells use it as their main source of energy. Therefore, the energy we need to exercise will come from the glucose in our blood. If we weren’t drinking the sports drink, our cells wouldn’t have access to this glucose, meaning they would have to get energy by breaking down our fats.

As you can see, sports drinks are a counterproductive method for someone who wants to lose fat. However, those who support sports drinks will always say that they give you the energy you need to exercise. But again, this is a flawed argument…

The average gym visitor has access to more than enough energy to complete 30 minutes of exercise. They’re likely to have glucose in their bloodstream from their meals that day, and if they’re low on glucose, they can break down fat stores to fuel their bodies. The only time sports drinks are beneficial is for ultra-endurance athletes – those who perform intense exercise for hours on end. But even then, there are much better sources of energy – what’s wrong with a good old banana? Not only is it much better for your body than sports drinks, it breaks down much more slowly, providing sustained energy over a long period of time – as opposed to a short spike provided by glucose. In short, sports drinks are just as harmful to us as sweets, and there are far better ways to provide our bodies with the energy they need to exercise.

Replacement of electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals that can be found in blood and cells and help regulate body fluids. The best known are sodium and chloride.

During exercise – the body’s electrolyte balance can begin to change – and as the body loses electrolytes through sweating, the imbalance can lead to symptoms such as muscle cramps, fatigue and nausea. Sports drinks take advantage of this by promising that they can replace electrolytes in our bodies and prevent these symptoms. While there may be an element of truth to this, it has nothing to do with the average gym visitor. Our bodies lose electrolytes relatively slowly, so unless you exercise for more than an hour, your body will be able to correct its electrolyte imbalance without the need for sports drinks.

Hydration

The final promise of “sports drinks” is that they keep you hydrated. Staying hydrated is an important part of any exercise routine because the body loses water much faster than it loses electrolytes. A lack of water can lead to dehydration which results in fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches, dizziness and poor concentration.

However – do you want to know the best way to keep your body hydrated? THE WATER

There is absolutely no better way to hydrate your body than to drink water – and plenty of it. Plus, it’s free, calorie-free, and has tons of benefits for your body.

The other problem with sports drinks is that they encourage you to drink before you feel thirsty. They claim the reason is that once you’re thirsty – it’s too late – and the dehydration has already started. This is absolute nonsense, and there is simply no scientific research to back this claim up. Our bodies are extremely complex machines that have evolved over thousands of years. Considering that water is the most important element for our survival, I’m sure our body has developed the ability to warn us when we need to drink (before we become dehydrated). And how does he do that? That’s called being thirsty!

The point is, we don’t need to drink water until we’re thirsty, because that’s how our body lets us know we need to drink. The danger of drinking before you are thirsty is that it can lead to overhydration – which is very dangerous. People very rarely die from dehydration, but it is very common for people to die from overhydration.

So this is it..

Sports drinks are completely unnecessary for the average gym visitor:

– They contain a massive amount of sugar.

– They are high in calories

– They promote the accumulation of fat in your body.

– They are a source of short-term energy.

– They are useless for replacing electrolytes unless exercising for 1 hour or more

– They are an expensive form of hydration – water is free and more effective.

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