It is a 95 degree, July, Sunday afternoon and your 13 year old has a big soccer game. She is sweating through her uniform and is very thirsty. Needing to replenish her electrolytes and quench her thirst the coach tosses her a sports drink and she guzzles it down. Good? Bad? Is there a potential problem? They are at every sporting event for your children. Almost everyone drinks them. Vitamin Water, Gatorade, Powerade, Propel…
While it still may be controversial, in this situation it might be acceptable. When someone is involved in a vigorous activity, in high temperatures, needing extra sodium and electrolytes may be necessary. However, with the amount of sugar and the acidic nature of these sports drinks, it could do more damage than good. What’s more important, most children are consuming these sports drinks during little to no activity.
These power drinks are either high in sugars, sodium, calories, or all of the above. None of which are good for you, let alone your teens.
Here’s the deal:
Erosion of Teeth:
Just like the soda you try to keep your kids from drinking often, sports drinks have acid. The acid will destroy the enamel, the strong, outer surface of teeth that keeps teeth healthy.
Already dehydrated from the activity, drinking a high sugar drink will delay hydration further. Not only that, but since you are lacking saliva in the mouth you are welcoming cavities. Our saliva has enzymes that help prevent tooth decay. When it is not present our mouths become an ideal place for bacteria to do their dirty work. Give them some sugar to gnaw on and thats their euphoria.
This can cause two problems. First, drinking something high in sugar may give you some energy but it is temporary. Just like that cup cake you eat at the office birthday party around noon, your energy will come crashing down around 3pm. Sports drinks have the same effect.
Yes, there are electrolytes in sports drinks. However, the amount of sugar found in them cancels out most of their benefits.
Tons of Sodium:
It seems like majority of the country is looking for ways to cut sodium out of their diet. It is abundant in most packaged foods and drinks; and sports drinks are no stranger to it. Heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke… These are risk factors for high sodium diets, to name a few. As adults we are learning how to modify our nutrition so we can avoid these deadly issues. Yet, we do not generally consider the effects of seemingly innocent products on our children.
So now you are thinking, “Are you kidding me? So what am I supposed to do?”
First, for those teens that are not involved in sports, change their drinking habits now and try to direct them towards better alternatives.
Second, for those that are involved in sports, water will hydrate them during the game, which is most important. Give them a healthy meal with protien after to replenish everything else they need. These are two great habits to pick up.
While discussing this weeks topic with Dr. Alex, she brought up an interesting tip that I never knew. I think it is such a great suggestion and want to share it with you guys.
Dr. Alex says, “Drink unflavored coconut water instead of sports drinks. It has easily digestible carbs with electrolytes. It will give you energy without the crash!”
I checked out some of the nutrition facts and you better believe that will be my new go to drink when I am working out and playing sports.
In the end, whatever you choose to hydrate with, it is important to keep healthy snacks on hand incase the water, or coconut water, isn’t enough! Bananas, almonds, or a protein bar.
Tell me what you do to keep up the stamina yourself or for your kids during physical activity! What are your go to drinks and snacks?