Sports Drinks | A $6.8 Billion Industry that Doesn’t Refuel Your Kids

by Jennifer Schwartz, Alexandria Soccer Injury Prevention & Fitness

The amount of sugary drinks and the post-game snacking that I’ve seen in my several years working in youth soccer is disturbing. At the very moments when our players need nutritious food we are handing them the equivalent of soda, and some sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade have MORE sugar than soda. What families need to know is that sugar in the form of simple sugars (found in soda, candy, products stored on the shelf) is not an appropriate way to restore glycogen. In this blog post I will be highlighting a recent Washington Post article about this very topic, and offering some healthy alternatives.

“Powerade and Gatorade wouldn’t be in big business if the only people who consumed their products were those who actually needed them. When these companies expand their markets to include all children who play sports, parents who believe the hype that their kids need to replace electrolytes and adults who think they are making a healthy choice by skipping the soda in favor of a “recharging” sports drink, the companies are suddenly pole-vaulting into money.”

— Casey Seidenberg, Washington Post

Read the full article here!

A strong case was made against the industry because of their similarity to sodas and soft drinks.

  • Many sports drinks have as much sugar and chemicals as soda
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that these drinks should be avoided or avoided all together. They suggested water be the main source of hydration and illustrate that water and fruit (specifically clementine and banana) will be suffice for most athletes.

Industry insiders, those who work in professional sports, have claimed that the Powerade and Gatorade in their locker rooms are not the shelved versions in our grocery stores. While the Washington Post article argues that younger athletes do not lose the same amount of electrolytes as professionals and elite adults therefore only needing water and fruit, the perspective that I teach athletes and parents is that minerals are important to replace for muscular and nutritional balance.

Below are some recipes and demonstrations that Dr. Miranda Wall designed to give our athletes tasty alternatives for safe and effective replacement of minerals, hydration, and electrolytes. In my experience, competitive travel soccer players are constantly on the verge of over-training towards mental and physical fatigue. We cannot change the demands on their muscles and brains, but we can encourage them to take an active role in their physiological responses to these stressful demands.

Recipe 1 | Recipe 2

Enjoy, share with your teammates, and give us feedback! Thank you for trying our drink recipes!

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