Sport Drinks: An Unhealthy Choice

Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are often marketed as healthy options, and they have grown increasingly popular with children in recent years. It’s not uncommon to see people reaching for sports drinks even when they’ve done no exercise.


So, how good or bad are sports drinks for you really?

Sports drinks are designed to replenish water, carbohydrates and sugars lost through vigorous exercise. Gatorade was first developed by scientists at the University of Florida to refuel football players who were practicing in heavy gear in the sun and humidity for hours a day. For them, sports drinks
were necessary to prevent dehydration from the heat and intense exercise.

But, how many average Americans perform that kind of intense exercise on a regular basis?

Sports drinks are packed with sugar. For example, one 12oz serving of orange Gatorade contains 80 calories and 20 grams of sugar, and keep in mind the average bottle contains 2.5 servings. A single bottle of Gatorade contains 200 calories and 50 grams of sugar! The American Heart Association recommends that adult women limit their added sugar intake to 100 calories per day and adult men 150 calories per day. Downing one bottle of a sports drink will far exceed your recommended sugar for the day.

So, should you or your child be consuming sports drinks every day?

Probably not. A good rule of thumb for adults performing less than one hour of vigorous exercise should stick to rehydrating with water. As for kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend that children consume sports drinks at all.

So, the next time you’re thirsty, rehydrate with water. H2O is calorie and sugar-free!

Lauren Wright works with both the HYPE Project and Let’s Go! SC. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Human Nutrition at Winthrop University. Previously, she earned her BA in Political Science at the University of Florida and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Rwanda.


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