Now that the weather is finally starting to feel like we might see summer this year, many of us will be spending more time outdoors. Sporting events, cookouts, or just taking a walk, they all amount to the same thing: we get thirsty. When we’re dehydrated and wanting some sort of refreshment, it’s easy to think of Gatorade, Powerade, or a similar sports drink. They’re colorful, sweet, and they’re advertised as being the best way to rehydrate. But are they really a good choice?
Sports drinks are different from sodas or energy drinks, because they contain electrolytes, vitamins, and/or minerals. When we are physically active, we sweat, and that causes us to lose electrolytes. These are minerals found in blood, sweat, and urine. They are important because they keep us hydrated and help keep our muscles and nervous system working.
Sports drinks are generally safer than energy drinks, such as Red Bull or Monster. These types of beverages contain ingredients that provide an energy boost. Some of these ingredients are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and may affect the heart and those with anxiety.
However, sports drinks still contain high amounts of sugar, so they are not the healthiest choice. If you get light to moderate exercise on a regular basis, water is your best option. Sports drinks work best for those who participate in intense physical activity, because they are losing far more electrolytes than is normal.
Just because sports drinks contain electrolytes, that doesn’t make them a better choice. A normal, healthy diet will still give you all the electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals your body needs. Also, if you’re trying to lose weight, remember that you should be burning more calories than you consume. If your exercise isn’t enough to require an electrolytes boost, sports drinks are just extra calories. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding fresh fruit to create different flavors you will enjoy!