Sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade are made for replenishing lost electrolytes, glucose and sodium after strenuous activity. They are refreshing, taste good and seem like a good choice for active, hot kids and adults, alike. These drinks are sold everywhere and consumed by the masses, many times, not even during athletic activity.
The problem is that these drinks were originally designed for carbohydrate replacement for athletes and for use in strenuous activity, which most people are not doing on a regular basis. In fact, these drinks are often consumed by people in a sedentary setting. They are loaded in sugar- lots of sugar. A 12 ounce serving can have 21 grams of sugar, and most people drink more than 12 ounces! Considering that the American Heart Association recommends that adult women get no more than 25grams of added sugar and adult men get no more than 36 grams, that’s almost a full days worth of the recommended amount of added sugar for women, and more than half the recommended amount for men, all in one serving of a sports drink! And we all know that most people will drink the full bottle, not just one serving.
Very few adults, much less kids, are participating in any activity that requires replenishing the body’s sodium and glucose. In most situations, water is the best choice. With no calories and no sugar, it allows the body to use exercise to burn energy, rather than replace a little bit of caloric loss with huge amounts of sugar and empty calories.
There are times when these sports drinks are appropriate, and possibly beneficial. A report from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that those engaging in less than 60-90 minutes of exercise are better off sticking to water. For those taking part in prolonged, vigorous physical activities for more than one hour, and especially in hot temperatures when electrolyte imbalance and dehydration are a concern, a sports drink may be better than water. (https://www.issuelab.org/resources/18583/18583)
The use of sports drinks, as well as other sugary energy drinks, when not engaged in strenuous activity, can have negative effects. Aside from the sugar contributing to tooth decay, the additional calories may also contribute to weight gain when the calories consumed in these high-sugar drinks are not being expended during the physical activity.
When in doubt, choose water. It’s better for your teeth and better for your body! Stick to drinking sports drinks only during strenuous, prolonged activity, and be aware of the total sugar in your diet.