Are Sports Drinks Like Gatorade Healthy or Not? The market for sports drinks such as Powerade and Gatorade is huge in today’s fitness oriented society, but there is much debate as to whether or not they are necessary, or even healthy. As with most things, there are both good and bad points about sports drinks and whether or not they are healthy depends on their use. The first thing that should be said is that sports drinks are not meant to replace water and even if you drink sports drinks during exercise, it shouldn’t replace water completely.
There are some advantages to drinking sports rehydration drinks. Generally commercials for sports drinks say something along the lines of, “Plain water can’t replace everything that you lose when you’re giving it all you’ve got.” While their main goal is to sell their drink, there is a grain of truth in that statement. Sports drinks contain minerals, generally sodium and potassium, which are most often referred to in the commercials as electrolytes. When you sweat, these minerals are lost along with the fluids and water alone won’t replace them. Drinking sports drinks can effectively replace these electrolytes. On the other hand, if you are serious about fitness, nutrition is probably one of your main concerns and with a good, balanced diet, your body should already have plenty of these minerals.
The main downfall to sports drinks is that there is a lot of sugar in them, though they are available in a low calorie version. Sports drinks were originally developed and intended for use by endurance athletes who could use that extra burst of energy that comes from drink high in sugar. The problem is that they are now marketed in a way that makes it seem as if anyone who exercises needs them. If you are strenuously exercising and losing a lot of fluids and electrolytes through perspiration, a sports drink probably isn’t a bad idea, but you should still drink plenty of plain water.
Are sports drinks healthy? Overall, water is the best way to quench your thirst, but if you want a change from plain water, a sports drink is a pretty good option. For endurance activities that involve strenuous exercise for more than an hour your body may benefit from the electrolytes and sugar in sports drinks, but for the average low to medium impact exercise that most of us do, plain water will probably be better for you overall.