If you go to the gym, play sports or train you will more than likely at some point have tried a sports drink such as Lucozade Sport, Powerade or even use an energy drink such as Red Bull before your workout.
The marketers behind these products have done a great job as promoting these drinks as healthy, or being great for people who do sports and exercise and helping them to re-hydrate faster. I even find that in my own job as a personal trainer I see people who are looking to lose weight drinking these while working out in their gym. But what actually in these drinks, are they as good for you as the manufacturers would make us believe or are they just water and sugar.
Let us have a look at what is actually in one of these “sports drinks”.
The ingredients in a well know sports drink (American Version) for example are as follows:
Ingredients: water, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin (glucose polymers), citric acid, salt, potassium citrate, modified food starch, potassium phosphate, natural flavors, glycerol ester of wood rosin, guar gum, niacinamide (B3), coconut oil, brominated vegetable oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6), Cyanocobalamin (B12).
As you can see the main ingredient is water but high fructose corn syrup, basically a sugar, coming in a close second with maltodextrin (another sugar) coming in third place. High Fructose Corn Syrup in Particular has been know to contribute to obesity and weight problems, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, as well as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Not something that you would expect from a healthy sports drink.
In Europe these ingredients are generally the same. For example High Fructose Corn Syrup may be called glucose as is maltodextrin. You also nee to be careful with maltodextrin in Europe if you are gluten intolerant as it tens to be derived fro wheat. If you are trying to lose weight ingesting these sugars are going to switch off any fat burning that is going on and plays havoc with you blood sugar levels.
Next up is Citric acid, which is used as a preservative which has been shown to erode the tooth enamel if consumed on a regular basis. Brominated Vegetable Oil which is another ingredient is allowed as a food additive in the United States but has been banned in Europe, India and other countries. You can draw your own conclusions to that.
So what should I be drinking if I’m plating sport and want to keep hydrated,. Well the advice we give out here is to only drink natural mineral water and you can add a squeeze of lemon to it for flavour and a tiny pinch of salt to improve absorption into the blood stream. Adding the salt will also stop you from running to the bathroom frequently.
As a foot note several companies also now do low calorie sports drinks that contain sweeteners instead of sugar. These should also be avoided at all costs as the sweeteners such as aspartame are know to be bad for our health