Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
Mitzi has been featured on:
Do You Need Water or a Sports Drink?
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
Print This Post

They taste good, are proven to hydrate, and provide you with electrolytes, so what’s wrong with consuming them on a regular basis? Nothing—if you’re performing vigorous exercise on a regular basis. Surprisingly, a large portion of the market for sports nutrition products, including sports drinks, are made up of a population who simply consume them casually without any type of physical activity to go with it. But while popular sports drinks are marketed everywhere and seem to appeal to everyone, their place in your diet should be something to consider. energizing_drink

Most sports drinks have been specially formulated to replenish lost electrolytes like sodium and potassium which can be lost in sweat but there are also contain carbohydrates and sugar typically making them a higher calorie drink. This is where issues can arise because those who simply drink them to enjoy the taste or think because a beverage is a sports drink it’s a healthy choice could be making a mistake. These drinks are still higher in calories and if not coupled with physical activity, could actually aid in weight gain. To understand if sports drinks fit into your lifestyle consider these three basic questions:

1. How often are you exercising?
2. How vigorous is the activity?
3. How much do you sweat?

If you participate in moderate to high intensity activity and you are sweating at a relatively high rate, a sports drink could help improve your performance and recovery. This is a good option because it can replace the lost electrolytes as a result of sweating and help replenish carbohydrate energy stores. If however, you are taking part in short duration, low to moderate intensity exercise, and you are trying to lose weight, good ole’ water will do the trick. I have seen people sabotage weight loss efforts by drinking too many calories throughout the day. Sports drinks are generally not necessary because your body simply has not lost a significant amount of electrolytes or burned up too much energy from carbohydrates to need immediate replacement. At this point, water is usually the best and most natural choice for hydration. Make sure to get 4-6 ounces for every 15-20 minutes of exercise to stay properly hydrated, especially if you’re performing physical activity in hot environments.

Research has shown that kids increase fluid intake when it is a sports drink so keep this in mind if you are out at the ballpark this summer. Personally, I give my kids sports drinks without any artificial sweeteners during most of their sporting events in the summer and also drink while I’m playing my tennis matches to help maintain my blood sugar and delay fatigue.

Research assistance provided by Robert Masterson.

What do you think?

mitzi mail
Want the latest from Mitzi? Sign up to receive recipes, nutrition and fitness tips, and announcements.
Twitter Facebook