Running 101: Sports Drinks

Before we get down to the important stuff, I have 2 things to show you.

1) I know you’ve all been wondering what I look like at work, so here you have it. I even look like I’m mid-sentence in a very important phone call. So natural.


2) I have been craving froyo (what else is new?!) and I finally dragged my sister with me. It was awesome. I even put some fruit in the cup this time. I think this means I’m growing up!


The other day I was talking to a participant at work and she mentioned that she wanted to cut out sodas and drink more water. Wonderful goal! However, when I asked if she only wanted to drink water she answered that she would drink water and Gatorade. I told her this was fine but to go easy on the Gatorade because sports drinks have a high sugar content. She was completely shocked.

It got me thinking. There’s a lot of misconceptions about sports drinks. So let’s chat about sports drinks, shall we!

Sports drinks are packed with sugar (simple carbohydrate for quick energy), sodium, potassium and other electrolytes that help you to stay hydrated , replaces the sodium lost through sweat, and fuel your muscles properly through intense exercise. Let me say that again… INTENSE EXERCISE. In all reality, if you are exercising for less than 1 hour, the good being done by the minerals in the drink are offset by the empty calories you are taking in. Think about it this way: An average 8-ounce serving of a sports drink has around 50-80 calories, 14-17 grams of carbohydrates and 100-200 mg of sodium. For exercising less than 1 hour, water is your best bet. If you’re not exercising at all and drinking it just because, well…it’s just another sugary drink. Let’s take a second and look at this chart:


However, I do know that a lot of you are training for intense races like half marathons, marathons and triathlon. During your long runs or the actual race, these sports drinks will definitely come in handy and help support your body as it takes on these physical challenges. I have found that even when I make a conscious effort to drink either water or a sports drink during a race (I like to alternate them between each aid station), I still end the races completely dehydrated to the point of nausea throughout the day. The last couple of races, when I’ve had a sports drink throughout the day after a race, I find that I don’t feel sick any longer and my body seems to recuperate easier. These drinks do have a time and a place!

It’s like anything else, moderation is key! For the most part I don’t believe in totally cutting things out, but soda is one exception to that rule. I really don’t drink it anymore (though I used to love it!). So when it comes to sports drinks, I see them as a step above soda and maybe at the same level as fruit juice. They have their place but for the most part, I do try to avoid them.

What are your thoughts on sports drinks?

How about soda?

What’s your favorite froyo topping??


UT San Diego Eat Right Ontario  Livestrong  Harvard School of Public Health


15 thoughts on “Running 101: Sports Drinks

  1. The secret sugars in sports drinks remind me of a lot of the secret sugars in juices. People think they’re a healthy choice, but they really need to be drunk in moderation! I am a water ONLY girl. Well, the occasional glass of wine/cocktail haha. I cut out soda (regular and diet) 6 or 7 years ago and seriously think that’s to credit for my losing weight and feeling healthier.

  2. I feel dehydrated during races too! Even when I drink every 1 mile, towards the end I’m still so thirsy, end up drinking a lot more, and get that sloshy feeling. I still have not mastered long distance fueling =(

  3. Great post! I try to stick to the low calorie Gatorade or Nuun when rehydrating. Definitely in these warmer months when we are sweating more during our runs do we need to replenish the electrolytes. But unless you are running a lot miles, it’s easy to consume just as many (and sometimes more) calories than what was just used.

    As far as froyo, I stick to hot fudge and crushed Oreos. Pretty boring, but so good!

  4. I LOVE Nuun tablets! I take those on long rides and drink them immediately after running and during triathlons. They are sugar free electrolyte tablets. I seriously LOVE THEM!!!

  5. I used to drink sports drinks a lot and then I realized that they gave me heartburn. I don’t know why, but every time I drink a sports drink, I wind up with heartburn. I also don’t exercise as much as I should and I read somewhere that if you’re drinking sports drinks and not working out, it can actually be bad for you. So I rarely drink sports drinks anymore.

    One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to stop drinking soda entirely. I was addicted. I stopped cold turkey. I had my last soda on December 31st. To see if I was addicted, I had one Pepsi about a month ago. I’d say having 12 ounces of soda in seven months isn’t bad… I mostly drink water and tea these days. 🙂

    I’m sad to say that I’ve never had froyo. I live in a small town and I’m not sure there’s anywhere near here that has froyo. I think I’d have to drive about an hour to get some, but next time I’m in the big city, I’ll check it out! 🙂

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