There is much confusion among the public as to whether or not sports drinks such, as Gatorade and Powerade are healthy for you.  I often get the question are sports drinks good or bad?  The marketing campaigns for Sport drinks; often feature celebrity athletes thus many people are under the impression that these drinks are healthy and essential for sport activities and during or after a workout.

Lets clear up the myth that Sports drinks are bad for you. The purpose of a sports dink is to replenish your electrolytes. It is important to replenish your electrolyte reserve after and intense workout that last 45-60 minutes.  This is a good thing and very beneficial for your body.  However, they are not needed for moderate works lasting only 30 minutes, as water is sufficient.   According to research, sports drinks are necessary for your health after an intense workout, but the question still remains are the Leading brands of sports drinks healthy or bad for you?  

Lets look at some facts; typically the leading brands contain about two-thirds the sugar and more sodium than sodas!  Many also often contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that we have talk about in previous episodes, also many have artificial flavors and food coloring, none of which belong in your body. Most sports drink only use sodium chloride, which is table salt to replenish the electrolytes; this is a problem because the body needs other electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.  Unfortunately these electrolytes are commonly deficient among Americans, and most Americans who have too much salt in their diet already. Additionally, the sports drinks and sodas that are citrus in flavor and yellow or orange in color typically have brominated vegetable oil in them. Brominated vegetable oil has been banned in over 100 countries because it is toxic. It gets stored in your fat cells and over time it can build up in your body to cause thyroid problems and symptoms such as depression, memory problems, hallucinations, seizures, tremors, confusion, slurred speech, photophobia, and fatigue.

As you can see the myth that sports drinks are bad for you is actually true, sports drinks are bad for you.  So what can you do to replace electrolytes after and intense workout lasting at least 45 minutes?  Read your labels, if you purchase sports drinks make sure that it does not have HFCS, artificial dyes and flavors, brominated vegetable oil, and specifically watch out for artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.

I personally drink water but I also add lemon or lime juice to it while I workout and for extra sweetness you can add honey.  Additionally after my workout I usually take a multi-mineral supplement.  Many health advocates state coconut water is also a healthy alternative.  

Until next time,

Take care and God bless

Dr. Ryan Bentley