Think that drinking a Glacier Frost Gatorade is a healthy choice? Think again!

Gatorade, Powerade and other sports drinks are marketed as exercise enhancers. Professional athletes endorse sports drinks in commercials and Gatorade sponsors athletic teams. The way that it is marketed, you’d think, “Oh, since all of these super-fit people drink Gatorade, then it must be good for you!”

But that is not the case.

Sports drinks do not benefit your health. Under extreme athletic conditions, having a small serving of a sports drinks might be a good option. However, sports drinks are not healthy to consume regularly or in large quantities.

Beware the Sugar

Sports drinks are marketed to appear healthy, but they contain a sugar content that is almost equivalent to soda.

For example, there are 34 grams of sugar in one 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade – just 5 ounces fewer sugar than a can of Coca-Cola! In addition, the sources of “energy-boosting carbohydrates” are high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose, which have no nutritional benefits and are damaging to your health.

Increased Risk of Health Problems

Sports drinks can increase your risk for multiple health problems.

Calories in sports drinks contribute to weight gain and obesity. Research links the childhood obesity epidemic to children drinking sports drinks and other high-calorie, high-sugar beverages.

Sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Sugar increases the risk of diabetes and weight gain.

Food dyes have been linked to cancer and hyperactivity in children. High citric acid content causes tooth decay and makes your teeth more prone to cavities. Sports drinks have more acid than some sodas or juices!

Children’s teeth are especially affected by the citric acid in sports drinks.

Not for Casual Consumption

The majority of people who consume sports drinks are not athletes. If you have a sedentary or lightly active lifestyle, then sports drinks are not “replacing electrolytes” but instead are loading you up on sugar, sodium and calories.

Sports drinks are not a healthy option to drink regularly. It is important to not give sports drinks to children – the adverse health effects are especially pronounced for kids. The only scenarios where sports drinks have any health benefits would be after completing extended, vigorous exercise.

Myth busted!

Unless you are a professional athlete, training for a marathon or exercising for long hours in hot temperatures, then sports drinks are not going to benefit you. Sports drinks are bad for your health because of the high sugar content and increased risk of health problems.

Plus, there are plenty of health alternatives to sports drinks if you are looking to replace your body’s electrolytes! 

Katie Cornford works in Kern County Public Health’s Waste Food Not Hunger food programs. She received her B.A. in political science from UCLA in 2016 and her M.A. in political science from UCLA in 2018. She is working toward her teaching credential at CSUB.

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