Sports drinks have fast become the craze, especially around the young and the athletic set. They have been touted as a fast way to gain energy but at what cost? Here we will touch on the good—the bad and the ugly of sugary sports drinks.

What Are These Sugary Sports Drinks We See Everywhere?

Those sugary sports drinks market themselves as a type of ultra-efficient hydration replacement beverage ideal for anyone who is active.  That said, there is no specific designation for this category, so just because the product advertises itself this way, it doesn’t actually mean that you’ll be providing your body with any real advantage by choosing it.

Many of them are electrolyte drinks that are meant to help athletes replace water, electrolytes and energy both ahead of getting active and throughout their sport. That said, due to the sugary nature of many sports drinks, their advantages for athletes have been called into question. This is particularly true when used by anyone taking on less than intense exercise over a period of time when there are alternative options that are just as hydrating and that aren’t packed with sugar.

We spend how much?

Five billion dollars and in case you didn’t hear it, we will say it again—five billion dollars a year on drinks like Gatorade® PowerAde® and the like. We buy it for teams and for athletes that are actually losing electrolytes and salt and may need something like this—but even then—are they doing what is best for their bodies? Not really.

So, what do sugary sports drinks do to our bodies?

While the promise is that the sugary sports drinks will provide us with hydration and an extra boost of electrolytes that we’re convinced we need if we do even the tiniest bit of extra exercise in a day.  Before hopping onto that bandwagon, make sure you understand what else is happening in your body when you choose this option over something else – like water.

Dental and periodontal issues

From the word go—the sugar in these drinks—as they brush over our teeth and gums—will in fact rot them. There is no other way of putting it—they will weaken the protective chemistry of the teeth and the gums. So, this is enough in and of itself—but there is more. This is very akin to what soda does in fact.

Esophageal and digestive issues

Much like soda—the body will react from the sugar but also the salt and cause weaknesses in the stomach lining. These can in-turn cause ulcers and other disorders in the future.

Cravings and weight gain:

Sugar has a way of sneaking in and making us fat. Yes, this is the long and the short of it. We never really attribute the energy or “health” drinks to weight gain, but it is there. People gain weight and start wondering why. There are a few reasons why. First anyone who is not athletic should not be using the sugary sports drinks that they have on the market. They are made for people that have a dramatic loss in electrolytes and salt. Unfortunately, they are also filled with sugar to promote taste—this is the thing that undermines the whole premise of a healthy energy drink—it isn’t healthy at all. It will make your body want more and more sugar—like an addiction.

Blood glucose crashes:

When you shoot up your system with this much sugar you are also throwing your blood glucose off wildly and that could lead to eventual diabetes.

Alternatives to sugary sports drinks

Water with lemon, lime, grapefruit or cucumber can offer a perfectly hydrating alternative to sugary sports drinks without spiking your sugar levels or causing harm to your teeth and gums.  For more extreme athletes who do actually need added electrolytes, there are tablets and powders that can be mixed with water and diluted to the level needed. That said, the majority of people will do just fine with regular water after a regular workout. It isn’t until you’re marathon training or taking on something with far greater intensity and heat that electrolyte replacement would become a real concern.