Sports Drinks vs. Water Sports drinks have established a dominating position in the exercise world. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on media advertisements and athlete endorsements every year. The simple fact that many sports stars promote the use of rehydrating sports drinks leads the consumer to believe that such drinks must be more replenishing than just plain old water. If basketball superstars Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard “bleed Gatorade”, doesn’t that make it true? The fact is the consumption of water to hydrate the body is just as replenishing and healthier than sports drinks.
Although sports drinks do offer advantages to high-performance athletes who exercise for at least 60 to 90 minutes at a time, the average person does not exercise that long, or that intensely. Water is better because it contains no harmful additives which in excessive amounts can cause health problems, and for the average person, water can replenish depleted minerals from the body lost during exercise. “Unless you are extremely active or a high-performance athlete, sports drinks can cause weight gain and electrolyte imbalance,” (qtd. n Murphy 19) says Paul LeBlanc, a clinical exercise physiologist and director of cardiac rehabilitation and lifestyles at Kent General Hospital in Dover, Delaware. Most sports drinks contain about 50 to 80 calories per serving. Other than these calories and added electrolytes, these drinks have no nutritional value and therefore no advantage over water. Many sports drinks are also extremely high in citric acid, which after prolonged consumption can erode the teeth and esophagus walls.
The beverage of choice for the average person exercising less then ninety minutes is water. Kathie Nelson, a registered dietitian at the Methodist Health Care System’s Institute for Preventive Medicine said, “[Sports Drinks] are an appealing option, but they provide minimal benefits to the average person when compared with plain water. ” (qtd. in “Sports” 15). Water prevents dehydration, keeps skin healthy, and aids in digestion. Water also makes exercise safer by regulating body temperature and reducing cardiovascular stress.
For moderate workouts under an hour, water is all that is needed because the body has enough stored energy to function safely. Instead of filling up on sports drinks, a healthy post-workout meal is a far better choice to replenish lost minerals and nutrients. According to a study performed by M. Van Nieuwenhoven, a member of the Department of Gastroenterology at the University Hospital Maastricht in the Netherlands, it was concluded that, “… sports drinks used during an 18-km run in cool environmental conditions do not support the performance better than mineral water.
The use of sports drinks during an 18 kilometer run leads to a higher incidence of both upper and lower gastrointestinal complaints compared to water. ” (284). Nieuwenhoven’s study included ninety-eight well trained subjects that were tested over an eight day period using three different drinks, included water. This study shows that water not only has equal replenishing properties to the body, but does not contain harmful additives that can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
Along with these studies that show intestinal consequences to consumption of sports drinks, dentists have preformed their own studies. In a study published in the Journal of Dentistry and written by Dr. Susan Hooper, it was found that “the sports drink caused significantly more [tooth] erosion than water…” (344). Since sports drinks have a substantial amount of acidic acid added in them, their corrosive nature was far more aggressive than water, which was proven to have no effect on the break down of the enamel of the teeth.
The consumption of sports drinks therefore has correlations with the development of an increased amount of cavities over those subjects who just consumed water for hydration. In conclusion, many studies have been performed to test the difference between sports drinks and plain water. After reviewing and analyzing the information, it seems that for the average person who exercises less than ninety minutes at a time, good old-fashioned water is the healthiest choice for mineral replenishment and hydration.
Works Cited: Hooper, S. M. “A Methodology for Testing The Erosive Potential of Sports Drinks. ” Journal of Dentistry. April 2005: 343-348. Murphy, Dee, “Water vs. Sports Drinks. ” Current Health. Apr/May 2004: 18-20. Nieuwenhoven, M. Van. “The Effect of Two Sports Drinks and Water on GI Complaints and Performance During an 18-km Run. ” International Journal of Sports Medicine. May 2005: 281-285. “Sports Drinks Versus Water. ” The Consumer’s Medical Journal. 2001: 15.
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