Sports Drinks Loaded With Liquid Sugars
October 28, 2011
By: Selena Keegan
Advertisements for sports drinks tend to portray these beverages as scientifically formulated electrolyte replacement systems designed to help athletes rehydrate their bodies after exertion.
The combination of “science” with ad imagery and labeling for sports, is meant to brand these beverages as crucial for an active, healthy lifestyle. However, a review of the ingredient lists of many of these products reveals their advanced “chemistry” bears a strong similarity to the ingredients of soft drinks.
Gatorade’s labels list these ingredients: water, sucrose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate and ester gum. The label states “no fruit juice” — the different flavor varieties are colored by food dyes. Gatorade is manufactured by PepsiCo.
PepsiCo’s chief competitor, The Coca-Cola Company, produces its own version of an electrolyte replacement beverage, Powerade. The powerade drink comes in a variety of colors and flavors.
Powerade contains water, high fructose corn syrupmaltodextrin (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).
Consuming high levels of sugary syrups can lead to weight gain, diabetes and tooth decay. The additional factor of higher levels of salts in sports drinks compared to sodas means these drinks can also contribute to higher blood pressure levels. Also, some studies have linked certain food colorings to hyperactivity in children.
The sports drink market was developed by promoting the idea that these beverages hydrate the body more efficiently than water and that they contain a special proportion of sodium, potassium and carbohydrates designed to quickly restore energy.
The scientific validity of these claims is highly questionable. Drinking a glass of water and eating a natural high-potassium snack such as a banana will rehydrate and re-energize the body in a healthier fashion.
Another alternative is to drink coconut water, which comes from young, green coconuts. Coconut water offers potassium and natural sugars which harmonize better with the body than manufactured sugars such as high fructose corn syrup. Look for natural coconut waters at health food stores rather than ones that contain sodium and food dyes.