Don’t Be Sabotaged by Sports Drinks

We’ve all seen them: the average gym-goer pumping away on the elliptical machine, sweating and striving towards their goals, and 15 minutes in, they pick up a neon-pink fluid and chug away. Bless their hearts, they really are trying to improve their health!

While I don’t think of sports drinks as necessary for anyone, really, and I think there are more natural ways of replenishing after a good workout, I know a lot of people still prefer to turn to an easy bottle after getting their sweat on at the gym. But even so, popular sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, are not usually necessary for the average person. Named after the Florida Gators, Gatorade was originally created to help re-hydrate and provide electrolytes for professional athletes who are training intensely for several hours.

If you’re a calorie counter, here are some numbers you may want to keep in mind:

1 bottle of a sports drink tends to contain 2.5  8-ounce servings, and packs an average of 150 to 160 calories.

  • 30 minutes of moderate walking (3 mph) burns: 100 calories
  • 30 minutes of elliptical machine: 210 calories
  • 30 minutes of moderate biking (12-13 mph): 250 calories
  • 30 minutes of jogging (6 mph): 310 calories

Replenishing drinks, if you drink them, are more for workouts that last longer than 60 minutes and if you have been working quite intensely and sweating heavily. If you only workout 30-60 minutes, water is sufficient for rehydrating – you won’t have lost enough electrolytes to even need anything more! Don’t let the calories of these drinks sabotage your workout. Be label savvy! 

Coconut water is being looked at more and more as a natural way to replenish your electrolyte balance after a long sweat. It has a good balance of potassium, natural sodium, manganese and magnesium; as well as some calcium and copper and other trace minerals – without added chemicals, colorings, or preservatives. It does still contain natural sugars and it does have calories, so it’s still something to be aware of.  But when you want a refreshing replenishment, maybe give this a try and see how you feel!  You can find coconut water at most grocery stores, or if you’re a lucky Saipan resident, coconuts are usually found as close as your own back yard.

In the states, Chocolate Milk has become a common post-workout recovery drink. Not only does it contain protein and the slow-carbs of lactose, but the sugar added from the chocolate is a quick source to replenish your glycogen stores. It’s your call on the idea of the processed sugars – I prefer to avoid it, but you can experiment on yourself after a long, intense workout and see how you feel and how you recover.

For me, even with an hour of HIIT work or heavy lifting supersets each day, I still prefer to use water for my hydration needs. And then refuel with a collagen protein shake with healthy fats and fruit when I’m finished. Find what works for you!




Published by Kate Cline, RD

Registered Dietitian with a focus on Gut Health, Inflammation, and Functional Nutrition. Personal Trainer with a focus on corrective exercise. Yoga teacher, traveler, empowerment coach.

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