By Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutritionist Blogger Jeni Tackett, RD, LD
Summer heat and humidity mean hydration is critical. But when is water better than a sports drink or vice versa? Well, it depends on how hard and long you go!
Americans’ diets are too high in added sugar. According to the American Heart Association, added sugar increases your risk of heart disease. Most Americans consume 22 teaspoons of added sugar each day. One source of added sugar comes from sports drinks, which are very popular with Americans of all ages. In the summer time, children and families are outside playing sports, running 5K’s, and enjoying nature, which leads to an increased consumption of sports drinks and added sugar.
The American Heart Association recommends:
- No more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories a day of sugar for women.
- No more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories a day for men.
For Vigorous Work or Exercise Lasting Over an Hour…
Gatorade and PowerAde are called “sports” drinks because they were designed for athletes who exercise vigorously for over an hour.
Sports drinks contain sugar for fast energy and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to replenish after sweat loss.
If you are running a race such as the upcoming Bix, which includes 7 miles of hilly terrain in the heat of July, you may benefit from a sports drink.
However, if you are going for a leisurely walk with your family, sports drinks just add sugar and calories to your diet.
For workers who are outside all day, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that for moderate activity in moderate conditions, each worker should drink 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Workers should be reminded to drink water frequently before becoming thirsty in order to maintain good hydration. While some workers may prefer the taste of sports drinks, often these types of drinks are not necessary for electrolyte replacement. Workers that eat regular meals and salt-containing snacks will usually be able to replace electrolytes lost during sweating. NIOSH has also published a chart to help you know the signs of heat stress and heat stroke.
Children are warned not to drink excessive amounts of sports drinks. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011 found that overuse of sports drinks in children and adolescents is common and can lead to dental erosion and obesity. Parents should encourage intake of water over sports drinks unless sports activities last over an hour and are at high intensity.
Here are the calories and sugar in sports drinks:
- 32 ounce Gatorade or Powerade 200 calories 13 teaspoons of sugar
- Lower calorie options:
- Water 0 calories 0 teaspoons of sugar
- Propel 0 calories 0 teaspoons of sugar
- PowerAde Zero 0 calories 0 teaspoons of sugar
- G2 (Lower calorie Gatorade) 75 calories 4 teaspoons of sugar
Imagine your child at a baseball tournament all day drinking a sports drink at each game. After a 4 game tournament, the child has consumed 800 calories and 52 teaspoons of sugar. The overuse of sports drinks results in high calorie and sugar consumption and possible weight gain and obesity along with increased risk of heart disease.
Water is best for hydration. Adults and children should drink water before, during, and after exercise and sporting events to stay hydrated. In the case of vigorous activity lasting over an hour, then one sports drink can help replenish glycogen stores and electrolytes. Be smart this summer and remember the power of water to hydrate you and the ones you love!
|Meet Jeni Tackett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutrition Blogger. Jeni is a registered and licensed dietitian for Unity Point-Trinity. Jeni counsels her clients on weight loss and nutrition. You can read Jeni’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.|