Sports drinks are beverages that contain high amounts of carbohydrates and vitamins to help the body replenish the fluids and nutrients burned during exercising and sporting events. The general notion that sports drinks are only beneficial to our body is wrong, for the most part because the overconsumption of sports drinks can cause real harm to our health.
One of the major advantages of sports drinks is that they replace the fluids we lose while exercising through sweating. Through sweat, we lose a lot of vitamins and nutrients that are vital for the proper functioning of our organism. By consuming sports drinks, we can replenish many of these vitamins. This is the most common reason athletes and active people consume sports drinks.
Another advantage of sports drinks is that they provide an alternative for people who don’t like drinking water after exercising. Normally, water is the best liquid we should drink to replenish for all the lost fluids while working out. However, for people who want to drink something more tasteful than water, sports drinks offer a great alternative for a total rehydration of the body after moderate or intense work-out. They come in a great variety of flavors and are, in majority, sugar-free as opposed to energy drinks that are full of sugar.
Sports drinks contain also high amounts of carbohydrates. Carbs are important in keeping our body’s energy high and particularly, when we exercise or playing sports it is vital that we keep the level of carbohydrates high in our system. Carbs also maximize our performance by keeping our muscles fueled, ensuring their proper function. Besides, the high amounts of carbohydrates combined with the high amounts of proteins contained in sports drinks enhance athletes’ performance further.
Another advantage of sports drinks is that they can be digested easier than food, particularly when our body undergoes any type of stress. We often consume protein bars as replacements for a meal. However, even these little bars cannot be digested as quickly as sports drinks because sports drinks come in the form of fluids that need to be replenished in our body after exercising and we digest the vital elements that we need in order to enhance our performance.
On the other hand, in spite of all the above mentioned advantages, sports drinks have several disadvantages too.
First of all, the fact alone that sports drinks replace water in situations that people prefer colorful drinks instead of pure water after exercising is the main disadvantage of consuming sports drinks. Indeed, sports drinks replenish the fluids and nutrients burned during working out, however this is not valid for all sport activities. Scientific research suggests that the advantageous use of sports drinks in relation to replenishing our system is reasonable after 45 minutes of strenuous cardiovascular activity, which is performed with aerobic, running, jogging or playing any fast-paced sport.
As already said, the majority of sports drinks are low in sugar, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t contain sugar at all. In fact, some of the most popular brands contain as much as 8 teaspoons of sugar per 8 ounces of fluid. Apparently, this amount of sugar is used to make the sports drinks taste good. However, consuming so much sugar on a daily basis over a long period of time can have a negative impact on our health and can cause serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, increased levels of blood pressure and obesity.
Besides, the acid contained in sports drinks combined with sugar can dissolve the teeth and eat away at the protective enamel. This happens because when we drink sports drinks, we are low in fluids because of intense exercising. As we are thirsty, the saliva that we have in our mouth and that normally protects our teeth, is not enough to wash away harmful substances. Therefore, sports drinks can erode our teeth up to 30 times more than water.
Finally, scientific experiments have shown that sports drinks contain high amounts of caffeine that can be extremely harmful to our nervous system if they are consumed over a long period of time. Even, if they are moderately consumed, they can cause dizziness, anxiety, sleeplessness and hypertension.
All in all, the overconsumption of sports drinks may cause a great deal of health problems to people who lead extremely active lifestyles. Particularly strenuous activities like playing tennis, running or jogging require replenishing the vitamins and minerals that are lost during working out. However, for people who are not very active, consuming sports drinks on a regular basis can cause more harm than good.