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Sports Drink Wars

Written by Holland Davis

When it comes to working out, we all want to improve our performance. And sports drinks seem to promise an instant energy to get you pumped for the gym. But most have a hidden dark side filled with sugar and fat. So before you quench your thirst with just any bottle of bright blue liquid, look over these stats and make a smarter choice.

Sports drinks can be split into three major types:

Isotonic sports drinks contain similar concentrations of salt and sugar as in the human body.

Hypertonic sports drinks contain a higher concentration of salt and sugar than the human body.

Hypotonic sports drinks contain a lower concentration of salt and sugar than the human body.

Most sports drinks are moderately isotonic, having between 4 and 5 heaping teaspoons of sugar per five ounce (13 and 19 grams per 250ml) serving.

Sports drinks improve your workout and make you feel rejuvenated after, but some people abuse this opportunity and feel-good feeling. Problems arise when people drink them in place of water on a daily basis. People think consuming sports drinks in lieu of soft drinks make them a healthier person. This is false! In fact, some sports drinks have just around the same, if not more, calories and fat intake than carbonated soft drinks. Look at the nutrition facts for a 20 fl. oz. bottle of Dr. Pepper:

Dr. Pepper (20 fl.oz.)

Calories: 250 Fat: 0g

Carbs: 68g

Protein: 0g

Sodium: 88mg

Sugar: 45g

Sports Drink Studies

The University of Texas Health Science Center did a study on this exact thing. “Sports drinks have been successfully marketed as beverages consistent with a healthy lifestyle, which has set them apart from sodas,” said lead researcher Nalini Ranjit in an article from “Children and parents associate these drinks with a healthy lifestyle despite their increased amount of sugar and lack of nutritional value.”

Yes, it is true that sports drinks contain more nutrients than water like potassium and sodium (those are the electrolytes you crave). They may nourish you faster than water because you are hydrated quicker. But, think of all those calories and sugar they have. The beautiful thing about good old fashioned water is it is calorie and sugar-free!

At the end of the day, the drink that will always be there for you and get you through ANY workout is good ol’ H20. Research from, shows that specialist sports drinks offer little benefit over plain water if you are exercising for 90 minutes or less. Water is always the go-to drink during any time of activity. It’s natural and guaranteed to support you through any workout.

Now let’s focus on those other workouts. You know, those it’s-hard-to-get-out-of-bed-the-next-day workouts that are over 90 minutes. But wait, don’t just jump into any sports drink. One awesome sports drink is not best for all. Find out which athlete you are and then read on about your ideal sports drink.

Drinks for Lower-activity athletes

Lower activity athletes exercise 30–60 minutes a day or 3–6 hours a week. Such activities would include long walks, yoga or jogging.

These drinks are best suitable for these types of athletes because it has fewer amounts of calories to worry over but still gives you the carbs as energy to keep you going.

  • Powerade:

    Calories: 50

    Fat: 0g

    Carbs: 14g

    Protein: 0g

    Sodium: 100mg

    Sugar: 14g

    Price: $1–$2 for 20 fl. oz.

  • Propel Berry Fitness Water:

    Calories: 25

    Fat: 0g

    Carbs: 6g

    Protein: 0g

    Sodium: 70mg

    Sugar: 1.4g

    Price: $2–$3 for 20 fl. oz.

  • Drinks for moderate-activity athletes

    Moderate-activity athletes exercise 60–90 minutes a day or 6–9 hours a week. Such activities would include short, quick sprints, a circuit of machines around the weight gym or a tai bo class.

    These drinks are best suitable for these types of athletes because it has more calories to burn in your more strenuous workout. It also has more carbs and protein to fulfill your tough workout.

  • Vitamin Water:

    Calories: 68

    Fat: <1g

    Carbs: 17g

    Protein: 1g

    Sodium: 30mg

    Sugar: 13g

    Price: $1–$2 for 16 fl. oz.

  • Lemon-lime Gatorade Thirst Quencher:

    Calories: 50

    Fat: 0g

    Carbs: 14g

    Protein: 0g

    Sodium: 110mg

    Sugar: 14g

    Price: $1–$2 for 32 fl. oz.

    One of the best-selling sports drinks

  • Drinks for higher-activity athletes

    Higher-activity athletes exercise for more than 120 minutes a day or 12 hours a week. Such activities would include marathon runners, rock climbers or gymnasts.

    These drinks are best suitable for these types of athletes because they are loaded with nutrients and packed with calories, carbs, and proteins to make sure you don’t fall over in your long, killer workout.

  • Accelerade Lemon (Powder):

    Calories: 120

    Fat: 1g

    Carbs: 21g

    Protein: 5g

    Sodium: 190mg

    Sugar: 20g

    Price: 14 Serve Cannister is $36.99

  • Cytomax Cool Citrus (Powder ):

    Calories: 90

    Fat: 0g

    Carbs: 22g

    Protein: 0g

    Sodium: 120mg

    Sugar: 12g

    Price: 4.5 lb tub is $48.95

Article Reviewed: January 9, 2016
Copyright © 2015 Healthy Magazine

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