Sports drinks are one of the hottest beverage categories. PepsiCo owns Gatordade, the category leader, and Coca Cola owns Powerade. Most major sports event in this country that areco-opted by one of these brands (or worse – energy drinks, but that’s for a different posting).
Invented decades ago to help college football athletes competing in very hot weather replenish lost electrolytes, the sport drink industry has ballooned through clever marketing and now it seems every jog around the block, or little league game deserves requires replenishment via a brightly colored sports drink.
We’re here today to pop a needle in the sports drink marketing balloon. Evidence is mounting that for most people, there is absolutely no benefit to sports drinks over plain water. On the contrary, the excess sugar or artificial sweeteners may actually do harm. Read more in this article in the LA Times.
Point in case is the popular Gatorade Thirst Quencher, Perform 02, Orange. Here is the ingredient list:
Water, Sucrose, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Monopotassium Phosphate, Gum Arabic, Yellow 6, Glycerol Ester of Rosin, Brominated Vegetable Oil.
Second and third ingredients are sugars. Sucrose is supposedly a cooler name for table sugar. Dextrose is glucose (the most basic sugar. Table sugar is made of glucose plus fructose).
There is no real orange here. The flavors are added, and the color comes from a potentially harmful artificial color – Yellow 6.
Last but not least is Brominated vegetable oil, banned in Europe, but not here! Liquid bromine — also found in photo paper, car seats, mattresses, and carpeting — is corrosive and extremely hazardous to our skin and lungs. It is fat-soluble and so builds up in our tissues. A 16-ounce soft drink made with brominated vegetable oil contains approximately 2 milligrams of bromine.
What to do at the supermarket:
Do yourself a favor and drink water after your workout. Most recreational athletes get more than enough sodium in their regular diet. If you need to replenish with something more substantive – have a banana.
If you are an elite athlete training for over an hour in hot conditions, you can opt for a sports drink. But don’t start drinking sports drinking in order to become an elite athlete…