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From soccer to t-ball, football to track and everything in between, our little athletes are constantly on the field. On the sidelines our job is to keep their uniforms clean, equipment purchased and of course, their bodies hydrated.
But, what is the best way to do that? Should we purchase expensive sports drinks for Junior’s practices and competitions? After all, he needs to replenish and recover properly…right?
While that may be true, exactly when it is a concern is probably much less often than you might think. Sports drink marketers have tricked us into believing we need their product the instant we break a sweat or surely we will not operate at our peak performance or in Junior’s case, recovery will be slow.
Sports drinks are effective in replenishing much-needed electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals such as potassium, calcium, and sodium that aid in water flows to cells which, in turn, regulates nerve and muscle function. In addition, sports drinks often contain carbohydrates, which restore glycogen (the storage of glucose for later use). Neither of these elements can be found in any great quantity in bottled water.
Are they really needed anyways?
More often than not, our workouts and Junior’s practices are far too short and lack the intensity needed to require a “refueling”. Keep in mind these sports drinks were originally created for the use of a professional football team. In other words, if you are not a high endurance athlete exercising at extreme levels for over an hour, you are not in need of a “refueling”. Water is a better option!
Good old high-quality H2O lacks the sugar, calories, artificial colors and flavors that sports drinks contain. An average bottle of a famous brand sports drink contains about 150 calories and up to 34 grams of sugar. It takes quite a workout to burn that all off, not the kind that Junior is receiving at little league practice.
I know what you are going to say, what about the minerals the sports drink give us?
My suggestion = fruit. Have sliced up fruit and a bottle of water ready to go after her/ his practice or after your workout and you will get all of the potassium your body needs. As far as the salt, simply add a little sprinkle to your water or skip it all together…you probably have too much sodium in your diet as it is. In addition, bottled water is all natural! There are very few natural ingredients in sports drinks, just a plethora of artificial stuff that you don’t want to consume if you don’t have to.
Skip the sports drinks, drink water instead.