The next time you're feeling thirsty after a workout, you may want to think twice before reaching for a sports drink. Sports drinks can be bad for your health if you don’t properly understand sports drink nutrition facts.
But aren’t sports drinks good for athletes? After all, sports drink brands sponsor so many sporting events!
Well, when you really look at sports drink nutrition facts, they aren’t always the best for you.
That’s not to say that all sports drinks are unhealthy, but you need to truly understand what ingredients are in your bottle. This will help you learn whether the sports drink nutrition facts of your favorite beverage are positive or negative.
The fact of the matter is, many sports drinks contain high sugar and sodium levels, and are full of artificial colors and flavors - which have been scientifically proven to cause health problems. They can even sometimes contain banned substances that can harm your health!
So, if sports drink nutrition facts can be that scary, how do you know if your drink is safe? And, if your favorite sports drink is unhealthy, what is the best way to get the nutrients you need after a workout?
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about sports drink nutrition facts, and introduce you to some healthy alternatives that will help you achieve peak performance.
Sports drink nutrition facts: breaking down the ingredient label
To discuss sports drink nutrition facts, we must take an in-depth look at why some of the ingredients found in sports drinks are so bad for you. Here are some of the sports drink nutrition facts that may have you thinking twice before reaching for an electrolyte beverage.
Sports drinks are usually high in sugar
One of the most problematic sports drink nutrition facts is this: Sports drinks are often very high in sugar. A 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade, for example, contains 36 grams of sugar. This is the equivalent of 9 teaspoons of sugar!
You wouldn’t want to add 9 teaspoons of sugar to your coffee or tea - it's incredibly unhealthy. So why would you want to add that to your body during or after a workout?
You probably know that having high sugar levels in your body can wreak havoc on your health, which is not what you want when you’re trying to compete athletically.
There are plenty of reasons why sugar is bad for you. When you eat sugary foods, your blood sugar levels spike. This is even more problematic for people with diabetes or prediabetes, as it can cause your blood sugar levels to become dangerously high.
Over time, eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain. This extra weight can also coincide with insulin resistance, which is when your body starts to have trouble processing sugar properly. Insulin resistance can then cause your blood sugar levels to become elevated even when you haven't eaten anything sugary recently.
Too much sugar can also cause problems like tooth decay and cavities. Sugar even can cause dehydration, which is the complete opposite of what you want when hydrating post-workout.
With sports drink nutrition facts like these, it’s incredibly important to check the label of your sports beverage for sugar levels.
Bear in mind that the sports drink nutrition facts on labels aren’t always very clear. Many companies will sneakily hide their sugar content under other names like corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, lactose, nectar, malt syrup, or fruit concentrate.
Sports drinks may make you reliant on caffeine
Caffeine isn’t just in coffee and energy drinks. It’s often found in sports drinks. And while caffeine is safe to consume in moderate amounts, the quantities found in sports drinks may be harmful, particularly when combined with intense workouts.
When digging into your sports drink nutrition facts, make sure to check the caffeine levels in your beverage of choice.
Adults shouldn’t consume more than 400 mg of caffeine a day, and for teens that figure drops to 100 mg. If you factor in caffeine in coffee, tea, or any other supplements you may be taking, your caffeine intake could be a problem.
Not only this, but if you become reliant on caffeine, you may go through a nasty withdrawal once you stop using it.
Many sports drinks contain artificial colors and flavorings
When looking at sports drink nutrition facts, one of the biggest problems is that they contain artificial colors and flavors. These ingredients have been linked with several health problems, including ADHD and anxiety.
In addition, these chemicals can disrupt your body's natural hormone balance. This is one of the sports drink nutrition facts you need to bear in mind, particularly if you have young ones who may be affected by these additives.
The majority of sports drinks are high in sodium
Sodium, also known as salt, is an ingredient that you might not expect to find in sports drinks - but it’s often one of the main components!
While sodium can be useful to support health when consumed in small quantities, when you ingest it in larger amounts, it can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes among other issues.
If you are trying to replenish your electrolytes, there are healthier ways to do so that don’t include high levels of salt. But what are those ways?
Let’s discuss some healthy options to reach for if the reality of your sports drink nutrition facts isn’t quite what you thought.
9 healthy alternatives to sports drinks
Now you’re aware of some of the unfortunate sports drink nutrition facts, let’s take a look at what to drink during a workout. What is the healthiest sports drink - or the healthiest alternative?
Whether you're a casual runner or a competitive athlete, it's important to fuel your body properly before and after a run. That means eating the right foods, drinking the right beverages, and taking the right sports nutrition products.
In this section, we’ll look at the best nutrition for runners and other athletes - as well as some key sports nutrition products that endurance athletes should take to help you perform at your best.
Water is always a good choice and is considered the healthiest sports drink by many people. It naturally contains no additives or calories, is inexpensive, and keeps you hydrated.
You need water for your body to function, and should be drinking enough water through the day so that your urine is practically clear.
Note that when you are engaged in high-intensity physical activity, your water needs will increase dramatically. You should drink water before, during, and after physical activity.
Creatine is one of the mainstay supplements for endurance athletes. It is an amino acid that helps improve energy production and muscle performance.
While creatine use is mainly associated with weight lifters, studies have shown that creatine can actually improve the performance of endurance competitors.
3. Coconut water
Coconut water is another of the sports nutrition products that makes a great alternative to sugary sports drinks. It's a natural source of electrolytes, which can help you stay hydrated. Coconut water also contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help your body recover from exercise.
You can find coconut water in most grocery stores, or you can buy it online. Just make sure you choose a coconut water that is 100% pure with no added sugars or artificial ingredients.
Beta-alanine is another amino acid that can help improve exercise and competition performance. Supplementation with beta-alanine has been shown to increase carnosine levels in muscles by 80%.
Carnosine reduces how quickly lactic acid accumulates in your muscles during exercise, which improves athletic performance.
Caffeine is a stimulant that is most commonly used to improve alertness and focus, but this is not all that it is good for. Caffeine can also help give you an added boost during long-distance runs.
Of course, if you want to add caffeine to your protein shake, remember that too much caffeine is detrimental. And, if you have heart issues, do not take caffeine before working out, as it can increase the risk of cardiac attack.
It is sports drink nutrition facts like this that could save your life!
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can help reduce fatigue and muscle soreness during and after exercise.
BCAAs are a type of amino acid that is metabolized differently than other amino acids. They are broken down in the muscles, which makes them a good source of energy during exercise.
Electrolytes are minerals that help regulate fluid balance in the body. They are essential for proper hydration and for ensuring that muscles and nerves function properly.
Endurance athletes need to be especially careful to stay properly hydrated and to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are the most important electrolytes for runners.
You should make sure you are getting enough electrolytes by eating a balanced diet and by drinking coconut water or electrolyte-enhanced water during and after exercise.
You may also need to take supplements to ensure you are getting enough electrolytes, especially if you are training for an extended period of time or in hot, humid conditions.
8. Protein powder
Protein is essential for your health. Consuming it in a powder makes it easy and inexpensive to meet your daily protein needs.
Whether you are figuring out how to build a high school football nutrition plan or are looking at how to best gain muscle in your 40s, you need to be thinking about protein powder.
Protein powder is a popular supplement among athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts. It's an easy way to increase your protein intake, which is essential for muscle growth and recovery.
Of the various options, collagen powder is considered by many to be the best protein powder for young athletes and seasoned athletes alike!
Collagen protein is absorbed quickly by the body, which makes it a great choice for post-workout recovery. It's also been shown to increase muscle mass and strength when combined with resistance training.
Endurance athletes put a lot of stress on their bodies, which can lead to joint pain, inflammation, and other issues. Collagen is a protein that helps to support the joints and connective tissues. It can also help reduce inflammation, leading to faster recovery times.
The protein in collagen can also help improve athletic performance by helping to repair and strengthen muscles. Collagen really does have it all!
9. Liquid collagen
Since collagen protein is so beneficial for athletes, liquid collagen is perhaps the healthiest sports drink. This is true for many reasons: A quality liquid collagen product doesn’t contain sugar, is full of healing protein, and is easy to toss back before, during, or after a workout.
Liquid collagen may also relieve joint pain, promote heart health, and increase muscle mass - all things that can give you an important edge when competing, and help you reach your fitness goals when training.
So, the next time you're reaching for a sports drink, think twice and choose something that's better for your health
Replace your sports drink with liquid collagen protein
Armed with all these new sports drink nutrition facts, it’s easy to see why there are better hydration and performance options for athletes.
This may have come as a surprise - especially since so many athletic events are sponsored by sport drink companies. But of course they don’t want you to know the sports drink nutrition facts (because a lot of them aren’t pretty).
If you want the healthiest sports drink to propel your athletic goals, it’s not any sort of “-ade.” What you want is liquid collagen protein. Specifically, a hydrolyzed collagen protein like the liquid collagen from Frog Fuel.
Frog Fuel liquid collagen protein has none of the sugar or artificial ingredients found in many sports drinks. It also packs in a whopping 17.5g of protein per single-serve pouch. And, with its nano-hydrolyzed formula, it will be easy for your body to absorb every gram of that protein in just 15 minutes or less.
Instead of taking a sports drink to your next competition, game, or workout session, throw a few pouches of Frog Fuel liquid collagen protein in your pack. Your body will thank you.