Your favorite athletes growing up likely had a sports drink advertisement doing their best to convince you that their sponsor’s product would make you play like they did. I mean, look at those guys. They are at the peak of human performance, strength and speed. Of course replenishing with some electrolytes after a workout is smart. But what if it isn’t?

Likewise, fruit juice was probably poured for you every morning by your parents as part of a healthy breakfast. Having enough servings of fruits and vegetables is very important, after all. What could be better than drinking juice squeezed directly from those fruits? Now many dietitians and nutritionists are saying to avoid them. Was mom wrong?

What they’re saying

Sports drinks market themselves as a great way to quickly resupply your stores of important electrolytes and salts that are lost in exercise. This is actually a good thing and has a lot of science behind the goal. The issue many health experts have though, is most people who consume these drinks have not exercised vigorously enough for a long enough time to warrant switching from water.

To deplete one’s stores of electrolytes and salts, you’d need to really exert yourself for many hours. An NBA player who just finished an overtime game has reason to reach for a Gatorade, but you likely do not after a quick trip to the gym. The problem is that these drinks are also packed with sugars in order to give them their sweet flavors and to give a blood sugar boost. For people trying to cut calories, they probably need to be aware of just how many calories are present in these drinks.

This is the reason the health community is also turning their backs on fruit juices. Yes, there are some good vitamins present, but you are also getting the concentrated sugar content of many pieces of fruit packed into one glass. People don’t realize that fruit is actually pretty high in sugar. Only consuming the fruit’s juice also eliminates the benefit of the fiber. One of the main reasons doctors recommend fruit is for the fiber. So, basically you are taking out much of the good in fruit and multiplying the bad.

The verdict

What then should you do? Should you just throw out all the loving advice of your coaches and parents from your childhood years? In this case, it appears so. As a general rule, you should avoid both sports drinks and fruit juices whenever you can. If you’ve just ran a marathon, treat yourself to a Powerade or Gatorade. You’ve earned it and it will actually help you. But otherwise, it’s best to just stick to water. There are a lot of great flavored waters now if you just find plain H2O too unstimulating for your taste buds.

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