Truth Behind Sports Drinks

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

August 2, 2005

With temperatures in the 90s, people are drinking sports drinks instead of water, but are sports drinks really helpful?

Bottom line--sports drinks replace electrolytes--sodium, and potassium that you use when you work-out.

"I drink it afterwards usually. I just feel a little low, kined of light headed, and it just gets be back and going and won't make me sleepy," said Nate Wootten, a UVa alumnus.

"I've heard it helps you keep hydrated," said Lori Stern, 4th year at UVa.

More important than hydration--it replenishes nutrients in the body.

"You need them because of energy. You need to use those because you can get cramps in your legs if your potassium is down. So there's a lot of things that you need to replace so that your body can perform to it's peak performance," said Sports Medicine Doctor Bobby Stokes.

But not everyone needs them. They do not help the lay person that just sweats or those with low-impact workouts.

"If you're going to do less than 30 minutes, water hydration is fair enough," Stokes said.

Most sports drinks are similar, but the ones with lower sugar and natural sugars are best.

"I like Gatorade and Powerade," said Stokes. "[I think they have] a replacement of the nutrients that you need and I also think that they have a less sugar content than most of them and I do like the taste."

You can make a natural alternative by filling up a glass of water, adding two teaspoons of chlorophyll, which you can find at a health store. You may also want to add fresh lemon juice, and natural sugar like syrup or honey.

Doctors also advise staying away from soda and tea when working out.

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