Sports drink

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Watsons Water and Gatorade sports drinks on a shelf

Sports drinks, also known as electrolyte drinks, are functional beverages whose stated purpose is to help athletes replace water, electrolytes, and energy before, during and especially after training or competition, though their effects on performance in sports and exercise has been questioned.[1][2]

At times if used too much, in wrong cases (as most of nutritional items) they may hinder health or performance. The drinks, or some of their ingredients, may not be suitable for certain conditions.[3][4][5]

Categories of sport drinks[edit]

Sports drinks can be split into three major types:[6][unreliable source?]

  • Isotonic sport drinks contain similar concentrations of salt and sugar as in the human body.
  • Hypertonic sport drinks contain a higher concentration of salt and sugar than the human body.
  • Hypotonic sport drinks contain a lower concentration of salt and sugar than the human body.

Most sports drinks are approximately isotonic, having between 4 and 5 heaped teaspoons of sugar per eight ounce (13 and 19 grams per 250ml) serving.

Purpose and effectiveness[edit]

Athletes actively training and competing lose water and electrolytes by sweating, and expending energy. However, Robert Robergs, an exercise physiologist at the University of New Mexico who studied Gatorade, said that unless someone is exercising or competing in a sporting event for longer than 90 minutes, there is no reason to drink something with excess sugar and electrolytes. The Australian Institute of Sport states that excessive salt supplementation during exercise may lead to "gastrointestinal problems or cause further impairment of fluid balance" and may cause salt-induced cramps.

Gatorade is a popular brand of sports drinks

Sodium in drinks might help to avoid hyponatraemia (low sodium), but only after sustaining athletic activity for more than four hours; a sports drink containing sodium may be appropriate for recovery from intense and prolonged training or competition.

A stated purpose of sports drinks, which provide many calories of energy from sugars, is to improve performance and endurance. In an analysis by Matthew Thompson and colleagues from the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, of 431 marketing claims of performance enhancement, most cited no evidence. 174 sources were cited for GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade; of them, Thompson found only three studies of high quality with a low risk of bias. The rigorous studies that did show improved endurance were "of limited relevance to most people because the tests were on elite athletes". Thompson said that, for the vast majority of people, drinking such products "could completely counteract exercising more, playing football more, going to the gym more".[7]

The drinks are marketed as soft drinks. In response to the Oxford analysis, a soft drinks industry spokesman claimed: "By helping people participating in sport to perform better and to recover more quickly, sports drinks can encourage people to exercise more".[7]

An effect of drinking sports drinks with carbohydrates without prolonged exercise is weight gain. A study presented at the Obesity Society's Obesity 2012 scientific meeting found people in their teens gained 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) over two years for every bottle of sports drink consumed per day. The leading author of the study, Alison Field of Harvard Medical School, said she was surprised to find that "Sports drinks have an even stronger relationship than sugared sodas with weight gain".[8] In August 2019, a study by University College London found that sports drinks were causing high amount of tooth decay in professional athletes because of high sugar content.[9]

Generally, sports drinks contain two-thirds the amount of sugar found in a normal soda. The sugar found in sports drinks still exceeds the recommended amount of sugar in a day for a child. Sports drinks advertise the electrolytes they contain, but the electrolytes do not matter if the body is already receiving the electrolyte from good nutrition. The purpose of electrolytes is to replenish the body with ions to carry throughout the body for muscle contractions and nerve impulses. Electrolytes are also a scientific term for "salts" and water is a better carrier for salts than any other liquid, so the effectiveness of what sports drinks advertise is unnecessary for normal bodily functions and may cause harm due to the high sugar content.

Some of these drinks feature caffeine which may prove to be harmful in high quantities. But if caffeine is not consumed too much it may be beneficial (but other negative effects may still arise).[10][11]


In the 19th and early 20th centuries, athletes occasionally drank beer of low alcohol content replenishing water, minerals and energy in the body. As the water is boiled during the brewing process and thus sterilized, the beer was a safer option than water from an unknown source.[12] However, it is studied that even a low dose of ethanol decreases endurance performance: it inhibits liver glucose output during exercise, and also impairs psychomotor skills such as reaction time, hand-eye coordination and balance.[13]

Examples of sports drinks[edit]

Commercially available sports drinks include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BBC One - Panorama, The Truth About Sports Products". 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
  2. ^ Deborah Cohen. "The truth about sports drinks". BMJ. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
  3. ^ "BBC One - Panorama, The Truth About Sports Products". 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
  4. ^ Deborah Cohen. "The truth about sports drinks". BMJ. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Sports energy drinks: pros and cons of drinking them".
  7. ^ a b "Sugar-laden sports drinks 'cancel out exercise gain'". 19 July 2012. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012.
  8. ^ Sports drinks, not just sodas, drive up weight in teens, 24 September 2012
  9. ^ "Sports Drinks and Energy bars Blamed for poor athlete oral heath,study finds". Nutra Ingredients. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Healthfully". Healthfully. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  11. ^ "Caffeine: How much is too much?". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  12. ^ Mika Rissanen. "Beer Breaks during the Tour de France. Some observations on beer and cycling in the early 1900s". Ludica, annali di storia e civiltà del gioco. Retrieved 27 Sep 2016.
  13. ^ Virgile Lecoultre & Yves Schultz (2009). "Effect of a small dose of alcohol on the endurance performance of trained cyclists". Alcohol and Alcoholism. 44 (3): 278–83. doi:10.1093/alcalc/agn108. PMID 19136497.