Back to school means back to sports for many families across the country.
Along with sports comes sports drinks. With bright and enticing colors, they’ve become the go-to drink for players of every sport.
Who can blame a budding athlete? Sports drinks are marketed as a way for athletes to” re-fuel” during a game or competition. They “provide fuel, fluid and nutrients before, during and after activity.”
Even if your child doesn’t play a team sport there’s no shortage of sports drinks. You’ll find them at birthday parties and in lunch and snack bags.
A fantastic marketing campaign has led us to believe that those sports drinks are nutritious as well as delicious. But the ingredient list on most sports drinks is far from healthy.
There’s a small amount of good news for fans of sports drinks
After a big dose of consumer pressure, Gatorade removed the controversial brominated vegetable oil (BVO)-patented as a flame retardant that’s been banned in Europe and Japan- from all of its sports drinks. Yes, there was a flame retardant in Gatorade not too long ago.
Also, sports drinks are caffeine free, unlike energy drinks which are loaded with caffeine.
Unfortunately, there’s not much more good news for sports drinks.
What’s really in sports drinks?
Sports drinks are touted as healthy and nutritious, but their ingredient list tells a different story.
Here’s a sample ingredient list from a big sports drink company:
WATER, ISOMALTULOSE, SUGAR,DEXTROSE, MALTODEXTRIN, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVOR, XANTHAN GUM,SALT, SODIUM CITRATE,MONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, YELLOW 5, NIACINAMIDE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, YELLOW 6,PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6)
Remember the rule: If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat (or drink) it.
After water the first 4 ingredients are sugar! Sugar is sugar, regardless of its name.
And when asked why there are artificial colors (Yellow 5 & 6) in their products, they responded with this:
“The colors in Gatorade provide visual appeal and help reinforce the flavor perception. They are also useful in helping our customers to quickly locate their favorite flavors as well as helping stock clerks group the flavors correctly on the store shelf. The colors used in Gatorade are certified by the FDA for use in beverages and reviewed for safety to the consumer.”
Pretty lame excuses for adding artificial coloring.
Why are doctors and nutritionists recommending sports drinks?
I’m somewhat baffled by this one. Many seem to be taking the position that these sports drinks are replenishing your body with necessary nutrients after a workout. While I do understand the need to replenish your body with necessary nutrients, I’m just not convinced sports drinks provide the best way. They are filled with loads of sugar, artificial coloring, plus a long list of other ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. These sports drinks are adding unnecessary calories to our children’s diets-adding to the obesity epidemic.
Clearly this isn’t real food….or drink.
Maybe it’s time to focus on sending our kids a better message?
Why aren’t we, as a society and as parents, suggesting that our children drink water. Gasp. Yes, water. So simple, low calorie and just one pronounceable ingredient.
What are your thoughts on sports drinks? Do your kids drink them? No judgment, would just love to get the conversation going.