Many overestimate the importance of sports drinks, when drinking water is just as effective. The drinks are not a panacea or a substitute for good nutrition and hydration and cannot make up for proper training. Overuse is cautioned.
Exercise Sports Drinks Use in Canada
- Canadians consume $450M in Sports Drinks annually.
- Sports drinks are only recommended for those exercising at high intensity for more than ninety minutes.
- According to Greg Wells, eighty-five percent of Canadians don’t get enough physical activity anyways and only a small subset of those who do work out hard enough to need a sports drink.
Hydration Needs during Exercise
- Athletes need water to keep their muscles working and blood circulating.
- 2% dehydration can harm performance.
- Adjust the amount of fluid for the size of the athlete and the conditions of the exercise (length, intensity, temperature, humidity):
- Children do not sweat as much as older athletes.
- Adolescents drink less water as part of their daily diet.
- A guideline is about one ounce for every ten pounds.
- Consider measuring fluid loss during a typical exercise session.
- Hydrate up to two hours beforehand and sip during the activity.
- Rehydrate within twenty minutes of the conclusion of the physical activity.
Sports Drinks Contents
- a 591ml bottle (about 20 U.S. ounces) of Gatorade contains:
|Component||Value||% of Daily Requirement|
|Calories||150||Not published (see below)|
|Sugar||35g||Not published (see below)|
- It is recommended that an average person on a diet of two thousand calories daily consume between twenty and thirty-two grams of sugar.
- Canadians on average consume 110 grams of sugar daily:
- Boys Aged 14-18 years: 172 grams (43 teaspoons)
- Girls Agent 14-18 years: 125 grams
- 35% of the sugar consumption comes from “Other” category, which includes soft drinks and sports drinks.
- One in five Canadians aged 12-17 years old is overweight or obese.
Appropriate Use of Sports Drinks
- Exercise must reach sufficient intensity and duration to deplete the body’s glucose stores and require the additional sugar in a sports drink.
- Sports drinks are appropriate for exercising during hot and humid conditions and multiple practices and/or games in a single day.
- If an athlete has not had a snack before activity or has gone more than four hours since eating, they may choose to consume a sports drink.
Appropriate Time for Sports Drinks
- 60-90 minutes of activity: sports drinks are a practical choice because they prevent dehydration, hypoglycemia (low sugar) and hyponatremia (low sodium).
- ≤60-90 minutes: sports drinks may be recommended for someone with a high sweat rate.
- ≥60-90: an additional snack is required to replace carbohydrates.
Long-Term Athlete Development Concerns
- The energy boost which may come from a drinking sports drink is from the sugar alone, not carbohydrates or protein which would help recovery.
- When children consume a sports drink, it can lower the body’s pH level for up to twenty minutes.
- A body’s pH level should be between 7.35 or 7.45. When the body is too acidic, it may suffer from low energy levels, aches and illnesses.
- Excessive consumption of acidic sugary beverages can lead to dental erosion, tooth decay and abscesses or mouth infections.
- Remember to brush teeth during training camps and tournaments when frequently consuming snacks and sports drinks.
Homemade Sports Drinks
- Athletes may consider making their own sports drinks in order to incorporate carbohydrates and protein without excess sugar or for budgetary reasons.
- Homemade sports drinks should contact six to eight percent carbohydrates (60-80g/L) to replenish depleted glycogen stores.
- Dufour, A. (2015, Winter). Athletes shouldn’t sour on sugar. Coaches Plan, pp. 10-12.
- Griffin-Greene, M. (2014, January 31). Sports drinks unnecessary, counterproductive for most people. Retrieved June 16, 2014, from CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/news/sports-drinks-unnecessary-counterproductive-for-most-people-1.2517424
- Higgs, C. (2011, January). Child Protection in LTAD. Retrieved June 16, 2014, from Canadian Sport for Life: http://canadiansportforlife.ca/sites/default/files/resources/E4%20Child%20Protection.pdf
- Langlois, K., & Garriguet, D. (2011, September). Sugar consumption among Canadians of all ages. Retrieved June 16, 2014, from Statistics Canada: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2011003/article/11540-eng.pdf