Americans are constantly under the influence from media advertisements to the point that many people now just believe them. I’ll lay out the case for water being the best sports drink regardless of what many marketing departments want us to believe.
1. WATER WORKS:
First, drinking enough pure clean water is vital to achieving optimal health regardless of intense exercise. Good hydration is particularly important for wrestlers and anyone else who exercises. Although sports drinks have vast popular appeal, most of them contain so much sugar, caffeine and unhealthy ingredients like artificial colors and high-fructose corn syrup to be considered healthy.
During times of high-intensity exercise your body needs plenty of replacement fluids. When your body sweats out important electrolytes and minerals through intense activity, you need to replenish them. One of the best ways to do this is in the form of a rehydration drink.
Your first tendency may be to reach for one of the heavily advertised, neon-colored sports drinks that appear on store shelves and in many cases vending machines right next to where you are exercising. The global market for bottled sports drinks has exploded over the last decade and is in the billions of dollars range.
2. They are bad for you.
Regardless of the advertisements, these drinks aren’t good for you and should be avoided. They have almost as much sweeteners as soda and a variety of unhealthy chemicals. In my opinion, pure clean water should always be your #1, go-to beverage.
If your sports activities cause intense sweating over a long period of time and you need to replace electrolytes, you might consider making your own rehydration drink. Love him or hate him Tom Brady holds a Gatorade cup on the sidelines of football games but he has a custom drink in that cup. Sports drink might be a sponsor but many athletes have something else in their cup.
Coconut water is my favorite alternative. It is particularly beneficial if you engage in activities like all day wrestling or MMA tournaments. You can drink it plain or add citrus juice for flavor. Rich in natural vitamins (particularly B vitamins), minerals and trace elements, including iodine, manganese, selenium, sulfur and zinc. It’s also packed with amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes, organic acids, phytonutrients and filled electrolytes and natural salts, especially magnesium and potassium. It is also low-calorie and low in sugar, but pleasantly sweet.
Coconut water also has an alkalizing effect on your body, which can help correct the cumulative effects of the acidic snack foods popular at most wrestling tournaments. This is just the tip of the health benefit iceberg. For all these reasons and much more coconut water is a great post weigh-in rehydration drink as well as an all day drink.
4. It’s really bad for you, but especially for KIDS:
In most normal cases young wrestlers don’t need more than water
Dr. Matthew Silvis, director of primary care sports medicine at Penn State Health Medical Center:5
“Sports drinks can replenish some of what you lost during exercise, but you really need to be exercising for more than 45 minutes to an hour before you would consider [them]. Many of our kids are not doing enough to warrant it.”
Silvis and his colleagues noted the high sugar content of sports drinks has the potential to cause weight gain and tooth decay in children. These beverages, some of which contain caffeine and other stimulants, also have the potential to cause blood-pressure problems, headaches, heart palpitations and upset stomach.
Dr. Katie Gloyer, primary care sports medicine physician at Penn State Medical Group, said, “Kids and adolescents really should not be using these drinks. Water is the best method of hydration.”7 The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also considers sports and energy drinks to be inappropriate for youngsters. Dr. Marcie Beth Schneider, pediatrician, member of the AAP committee on nutrition and co-author of a 2011 report8 on the subject, stated: “There is a lot of confusion about sports drinks and energy drinks, and adolescents are often unaware of the differences in these products. Some kids are drinking energy drinks — containing large amounts of caffeine — when their goal is simply to rehydrate after exercise. …
In many cases, it’s hard to tell how much caffeine is in a product by looking at the label. Some cans or bottles of energy drinks can have more than 500 mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent of 14 cans of soda.”
Lets look at a couple other sports drink ingredients. Red 40 is a chemical compound that comes from coal tars. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, some people who have come in contact with products containing Red 40 have had allergic reactions, such as swelling around the mouth. Research has also shown a link between Red 40 and hyperactivity in kids. Most studies of Red 40 have been done on mice, and Red 40 did quite a number on the little guys. The rats had lower reproductive success, a reduced weight of both parents and their offspring, decreased brain weight, and a lower chance of survival for newborn rats.
Food and Chemical Toxicology, researchers studied two different blue dyes: Patent Blue and Brilliant Blue and found that it could inhibit cell respiration, which could lead to ADHD, allergies and asthma. And, when Brilliant Blue was used in feeding tubes, a 2003 study proved that it had links to blue-tinged skin, urine, and feces, as well as hypotension and even death.
Gatorade had an actual flame retardant chemical in it until recently. The ingredient is called brominated vegetable oil (BVO), and its been patented in Europe as a flame retardant.
THE BOTTOME LINE. The list goes on but for the sake of attention spans I’ll stop here and sum up:
Massive amounts of caffeine, high-fructose corn syrup (or sweeteners like this) and questionable chemicals aren’t a good thing for anyone let alone our children. Do your own research but I suggest sticking with water and coconut water for your best performance and overall health.
Energy drinks are shockingly toxic to the human heart. Don’t even think about using them.