The Truth about Popular Sports Drinks

Posted by on Jul 9, 2013 | No Comments

Electrolyte Drink “The Great Flood of Toronto”, as described to me by a patient this morning, has led to my weekly nutrition talk for the North Toronto Soccer Academy to be cancelled due to field flooding. This has in turn opened up my afternoon to write a blog post (always a silver lining!) The topic and activity for today’s athletes was healthy sports drinks and D.I.Y. personalized glass bottles. This is foremost in my mind after choosing the wrong sports supplement this past Saturday while participating in Joe’s Team Sprint Duathlon on Lake Joe in Muskoka and suffering the consequences. The Sprint Duathlon is comprised of a 5km run, 20km bike and 2.5km run. My plan was to have some of my homemade electrolyte drink during the second half of the bike to give me some extra energy for the final run. Unfortunately, I left Toronto in a rush and forgot my electrolyte drink. So instead I decided to pick up a popular sports supplement from a local triathlon store, big mistake. I felt great during the first run and bike and had a decent lead over the other women in the race. However, about half way through the final sprint I started to feel my stomach turn. I had to slow my pace but managed to stay in front. As I rounded the final corner the dry heaves started and just as I crossed the finish line and heard the announcer say I had won, I lost it and got sick everywhere! All I could hear was a resounding “ohhhhhh/ewwww” from the crowd. The amount of sugar and artificial ingredients in the popular supplement was too much for my digestive system to handle. Lesson learned, the hard way!

The next two sports drinks are not what I had on Saturday but they are by far the most common and popular sports drinks on the market. I regularly see athletes drink these during competition and it concerns me for several reasons; such as, the sugar content, high end sodium content, artificial ingredients including food colouring dyes which have been linked to autism in children and high fructose syrup which has been associated with increasing the risk for many diseases. But most relevant would be the issues digesting these during competition leading to poorer sport performance.

  1. Gatorade Orange 20 oz bottle has 130cal, 270g sodium, 34g sugar. Ingredients: WATER, SUCROSE, DEXTROSE, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVOR, SALT, SODIUM CITRATE, MONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, GUM ARABIC, YELLOW 6, GLYCEROL ESTER OF ROSIN, BROMINATED VEGETABLE OIL.

http://www.pepsicobeveragefacts.com/infobyproduct.php?prod_type=1026&prod_size=20&brand_fam_id=1043&brand_id=1002&product=Gatorade+Orange

  1. Powerade Fruit Punch 20 oz bottle has 125cal, 250g sodium, 35g sugar. Ingredients: Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Salt, Potassium Citrate, Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Chloride, Potassium Phosphate, Modified Food Starch, Glycerol Ester of RosinMedium Chain Triglycerides, Brominated Vegetable Oil, B3, B6, B12 , Red #40.

http://productnutrition.thecoca-colacompany.com/products/powerade-fruit-punch?packagingId=9469#ingredients

Alternatively, you can make your own sports drink quickly and easily at home. Opt for glass or stainless steel bottles over plastic. Glass mason jars are my favourite and a trick I use is letting kids decorate them themselves with stickers and other craft stuff so they get excited about drinking from them. If you are concerned with your child using glass, pop a can-koozie over the mason jar to prevent it from breaking if dropped. For kids under 11 years I use 250mL mason jars so the following recipe is for a 250mL jar:

–          2oz coconut water

–          ½ tsp honey (raw, unpasteurized)

–          Pinch of all natural sea salt

–          2 slices of citrus fruits (organic, peel on)

–          Fill remainder with cold water, screw on lid, shake and enjoy

The nutritional information for 20 oz (equal portion size to sports drinks mentioned above) of Dr. Aisling’s Natural Electrolyte Mix is: 81cal, 1-2g sodium, 12.4g sugar and you don’t have to worry about artificial flavours, colours or BPA’s  from plastic bottles. 

Stay hydrated and energized this summer!

Yours in health,

Dr. Aisling Lanigan ND

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