What You Need to Know About Sports Drinks

After a good workout, you should reward your body by replenishing the energy, minerals and nutrients lost during sweat. Water will usually do the trick, but you sometimes need a boost beyond that. The supermarket is stocked with a big variety of neon-colored sports drinks with successful marketing campaigns featuring famous athletes and promotional signage all over your favorite sports stadiums. While most people think that sports drinks are doing their body a favor, in reality these “-ades” are doing more harm than good.

Most of these sports drinks contain additives, preservatives, tooth-eroding acids, artificial colors, and will actually dehydrate you due to the large amount of sugar. These beverages draw out water from cells and dump it into the stomach to dilute the drink before digestion.

What You Need to Know About Sports Drinks

Take Powerade ION4 Advanced Electrolyte Mountain Berry Blast drink (32 oz bottle) for example. It’s formulated to hydrate, aid in recovery, and replenish lost electrolytes.

Let’s look at the ingredients (from Powerade’s website):

Water, high fructose corn syrup, cirtic acid, salt and magnesium chloride and calcium chloride and monopotassium phosphate, natural flavors, modified food starch, calcium disodium EDTA, medium chain triglycerides, sucrose acetate isobutyrate, vitamin B3, B6, B12, blue 1

Here’s some more interesting information about just a couple of them:

Calcium Disodium EDTA is a preservative that clings to minerals in your digestive tract and pulls them out/discards them out of your body. This depletes you of crucial minerals and disrupts your gut bacteria leading to digestive issues, weaker immune system, kidney damage, and compromised cell and nerve function.

High Fructose Corn Syrup has the same effects on your health as sugar, but unlike sugar, it doesn’t trigger the “I’m full” hormone leptin in the brain, making it easier to overeat, leading to obesity, diabetes, bloating, diarrhea, and overall discomfort

Blue 1 is a petroleum-derived food dye. Like other food dyes, it has been linked to ADHD, allergies, and allergies. Additional symptoms of Blue 1 in particular include headaches, migraines, anxiety, hyperactivity, and fatigue.

PLUS it has 52.5 grams of sugar in the bottle. That’s over ¼ cup of sugar (aka 13+ teaspoons of sugar) in 1 bottle!

Sure Powerade and other sports drinks might do a fine job of replenishing electrolytes, but there are LOTS of ingredients in there you could do even better without. Take your favorite one and flip it over and look at the ingredients. Know what you’re putting in your body.

What You Need to Know About Sports Drinks

Luckily there is an easy and painless resolution to this dilemma: Make your own recovery drink and save your cash, health and taste buds. According to Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, refueling beverages need three elements: water, electrolytes and carbohydrates.

Here are some easy ways to replenish your electrolytes naturally, and give your body some serious nutrition at the same time. Remember to choose organic ingredients whenever possible.

Juice Celery + Apple + Lemon:
This is a killer combination for replacing electrolytes. Celery juice replaces lost electrolytes and rehydrates the body with its rich minerals. It has a natural source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. An apple has potassium also and is a great source of carbohydrates. 1 apple contains 25 grams of total carbs, 19 grams of which are glucose and fructose which our body uses for energy. This easily accessible energy helps you bounce back after a strenuous workout. Lemon is the highest electrolyte containing citrus fruit.

Raw Coconut Water + Chia Seeds:
One of my favorite re-hydrating drinks is coconut water. Raw coconut water has a ton of electrolytes and potassium that will not only help you stay hydrated but also keep your body from getting cramps. When you combine coconut water with chia seeds, you get an awesome post-workout combo. Chia seeds are full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. They can hold 9 times their weight in water, which helps you from getting dehydrated.

Be careful though and read the ingredients label first for the coconut water. A lot of brands on the market contain added sugar or added flavorings. Avoid coconut water from concentrate too, that means it has been heated and lost key nutrients.

Banana + Almond Milk + Kale:
These 3 together make a delicious and impressive post-workout smoothie. Bananas and almonds both are a great source of potassium and magnesium, which help regulate your fluid stores. If you are making your own almond milk for this recipe, be sure to add sea salt to get the benefits from that type of sodium (store bought already has salt added). Kale contains powerful antioxidants that help manage inflammation post-workout. This will help prevent soreness and stiffness. 

Do you have a juicer? Try this post-workout recovery juicing recipe:

1 cup chopped seedless watermelon (perfect for fast hydration)
2 stalks celery
1 apple, cored 
1 lemon, peeled
½ cucumber (fights inflammation/pain in joints by eliminating uric acid build up)
2 cups spinach (good source magnesium to prevent dehydration and calcium for bone health)

Know someone who needs to drop Gatorade or Powerade for good? Please share this information and recipes with them. It’s easy to naturally recover from a tough workout without the garbage.

Now go get some exercise and replenish with a better alternative to sports drinks!