Myth Busting Sports Drinks
Have you noticed your Y is no longer selling sugary sports drinks? Here’s why.
Sports drinks are sugary drinks in disguise, cleverly marketed as a refreshing and hydrating drink that will aid recovery more effectively than water. But the truth is, with 9 teaspoons of sugar per 600ml bottle, they do little to help after exercise and may, in fact, undo all your hard work.
Water is all we need to rehydrate and perform at our best.
Let’s bust some common myths about sports drinks:
Myth #1: They are healthy for you
A 600ml bottle of sports drink contains around nine teaspoons of sugar. That’s one and half times the daily recommendation for added sugar, which adds excess kilojoules (calories) in your diet that in turn can lead to weight gain, essentially cancelling out your workout. Sports drinks also contain acids, which combined with sugar make these drinks highly acidic, leading to dental enamel erosion and tooth decay.
Myth #2: They are better than water
Here’s the deal: No matter what, water is the safest and most hydrating liquid that you can consume. It contains no calories or additives and the best thing about water is that it’s cheap — or free if you carry your own water bottle. If taste is an issue for you – add some sliced lemon, cucumber and some mint or even berries for a flavour burst.
Myth #3: They give you electrolytes your body needs
While sports drinks do contain electrolytes, this is mostly sodium chloride (table salt) and potassium. In fact, most of us already consume too much salt and losses through sweat won’t
negatively impact our performance or health. And salt makes you feel thirstier – which may actually make you drink more than you need, loading up on unnecessary sugar.
Potassium can be found in many simple snacks that come without the added sugar and chemicals, like a banana or a glass of milk. Other nutritious foods that are high in potassium include dark leafy greens, potatoes, beans, fish, yoghurt, mushrooms and avocados.
Myth #4: They don’t contain harmful additives
Sports drinks contain more chemicals by weight than electrolytes. These include food acids, artificial colours and artificial flavours, to aid palatability and stability of the product. Food acids combined with sugar make sports drinks highly acidic which can wear down the teeth, contributing to dental enamel erosion and tooth decay. Dentists have been concerned for some time about increasing rates of dental problems among active people of all ages, from pre-school children through to adults. In some cases, the increased rate of erosion has been linked to consumption of products such as sports drinks.
Myth #5: They give you energy
With all the added sugar they contain, sports drinks will raise blood sugar levels at a rapid rate. But what goes up must come down, and while you may get an energy boost after consuming one, it’s just a short-term sugar high, which will disappear just as rapidly, leaving you feeling flat and lethargic afterwards – and craving your next sugar hit.
Myth #6: Diet sports drinks are okay though
You may have noticed new ‘sugar-free’ diet sports drinks are now available as alternative to the sugar-laden varieties. Unfortunately, even without the sugar, these drinks pose problems to our health – and for most of us, will do little to enhance our performance or recovery. Artificially sweetened drinks are still very acidic, even without the sugar, meaning they are damaging to your teeth. And artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin and sucralose can have the same effect on your body as sugar, triggering insulin production, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain, which may be detrimental to your exercise goals.
Sports Drinks: the bottom line
Sports drinks are sugary drinks in disguise. Despite what sports drinks brands and the sports stars who promote them might tell you, for most of us sports drinks provide unnecessary sugar and salt. We would actually benefit more from drinking water and eating a simple snack, like a banana, than a sweet-flavoured drink filled with artificial substances.
In reality, water is all we need to rehydrate and perform at our best.