More than $1.5 billion worth of sports drinks are sold in the United States each year, but are they worth the money? We researched the most commonly advertised benefits of sports drinks, and uncovered the 5 myths about sports drinks that you need to know.
Myth: Sports drinks are better at keeping you hydrated than water
Nothing beats plain water at keeping you hydrated, and water does the job without any unnecessary sugar or calories. If the taste of sports drinks helps you drink more liquids while working out, it may be worth the extra calories, but there’s no need to forgo your usual bottle of H2O.
Myth: Drinks with electrolytes replenish minerals lost from sweat
Sports drinks typically contain electrolytes and minerals like potassium and sodium that water can’t replace. The electrolyte and mineral content of energy drinks is so low, however, that your favorite drink is not likely to make as big a difference as you expect it to. If you’re worried about restoring lost minerals, a post-workout snack of pretzels and a banana will replenish more minerals, more quickly than a sports drink.
Myth: Sports drinks provide energy for your workout
The caffeine in many sports drinks may make you feel more awake, but only the carbohydrates can help fuel your workout, so read the label closely. Drinks containing 6-8% carbohydrates may give your workout a boost, but drinks containing less than 6% will not provide enough energy, and should only be used for hydration. Instead of a low-carb energy drink, try a healthy pre-workout snack like whole grain cereal or a smoothie that offers plenty carbohydrates.
Myth: Sports drinks are all you need to stay hydrated
A sports drink may help quench your thirst at the gym, but you still need water to stay properly hydrated. If you don’t want to give up your favorite drink, diluting it with water can be a good compromise. Sports drinks can also be rough on your stomach with artificial sweeteners or pure sugar, so stick to water as much as possible.
Myth: Coconut water is the healthy sports drink
Coconut water is a healthy option, but it doesn’t contain nearly as much sodium or as many carbohydrates as you could get from a sports drink or, better yet, a healthy snack before and after your workout.