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Sports drinks: Are they as healthy as they're made out to be?

We see it every day… children drinking brightly coloured sports drinks after footy practise, before a weekend match or at lunchtime with their tuck shop order. But are sports drinks really a healthy diet addition? And when are they really necessary? Today we take a closer look at exactly what goes into a bottle of sports drink, and whether they are a good idea at all for kids.

The inside scoop on sports drinks—What’s in your average sports drink?

Sports drinks first originated in 1960s America when scientists were trying to determine how to keep athletes hydrated for longer. They discovered that after periods of intense exercise where lots of water was lost as sweat, the athlete’s stores of electrolytes and carbohydrates would be very low, making them fatigued and lethargic.

Electrolytes and sodium are necessary for achieving optimal hydration, assisting with delivering the fluid quickly and to the correct places in the body. By adding these additional ingredients alongside some sugar, scientists achieved the ultimate hydration fluid for sports competitors, which would refuel their energy levels and keep them hydrated.

These days, sports drinks still contain electrolytes, sodium and sugar, however the sugar content has either been increased to improve taste, or replaced with an unhealthy artificial sweetener. Artificial colours and flavours are also commonly added, which have been proven to have adverse effects on some children.

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The inside scoop on sports drinks—Are they really necessary?

For the average person completing average amounts of physical activity, sports drinks are not a necessity. They fill your body with unnecessary amounts of sugar and artificial additives, which are generally a no-no on the wellness front.

However, if you or a family member has completed 60-90 minutes of intense exercise in hot conditions, then a sports drink may assist with becoming properly hydrated. Just remember, you need to be burning off the sugar in the drink through exercise to ensure it isn’t converted and stored as fat.

A fantastic natural sports drink alternative is coconut water, which is loaded with electrolytes and brilliant hydrating properties. So if you or your family requires a sports drink, why not go down the natural route and opt for an icy cold coconut beverage?

Is anyone in your family an athlete who completes endurance events? We would love to hear your sports stories.

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30 January, 2017 Facebook icon Twitter icon

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