Sports Drinks vs. The All-Natural Alternative
Sports drinks are nutritional, commercially available drinks designed to help active people, like athletes, hydrate before, during and after exercising, training or competing. Popular ones are Maximus, Pocari Sweat, Powerade and Gatorade. No matter which one you prefer, they can all improve your exercise performance and recovery. But that doesn’t necessarily mean these drinks are “healthy”.
Sports drinks are a go-to for many people, but few know that there are actually natural alternatives to the store bought options. They may take a bit more effort, but the natural alternatives won’t have the high sugar and colouring content regular sports drinks usually have.
Read on to discover what sports drinks are and where you can find the all-natural sports drink alternatives.
A Closer Look At Sports Drinks
Aside from good ol’ water, the main ingredients of regular sports drinks are carbohydrates and electrolytes.
Carbohydrates, or carbs for short, are the fibres, starches and sugars naturally found in vegetables, fruit, grains and milk products, including butter, cheese and ice cream. When consumed, they provide the energy needed by the brain and muscles to function.
Most sports drinks have a carbohydrate content ranging 6–8%. Aside from providing the energy our brains and muscles need to work properly, sports drinks contain sugar carbohydrates to be more palatable.
Electrolytes are minerals that conduct an electric charge when dissolved in water. The energy generated is also needed by our brains and muscles to work properly. Examples of electrolytes are calcium, potassium and sodium.
Sodium is one of the electrolytes most commonly added to sports drinks. Besides providing more energy, sodium can increase the drinkers’ capacity to absorb and retain fluids.
The other common sports drinks ingredients include vitamins, like the antioxidant Vitamin C, and protein.
All-natural sports drinks contain these electrolytes and vitamins, but only contain all-natural ingredients, like coconut water, tea and honey. That makes them a healthy alternative to regular sports drinks for those who want to perform at their best without worrying about suffering any adverse effects from the artificial ingredients that regular sports drinks have.
Regular Sports Drinks vs All-Natural Sports Drinks
But wait, aren’t all sports drinks natural?
Not quite. Some regular sports drinks contain artificial ingredients, like Red 40, an artificial food coloring known to be potentially hazardous to some people.
Other ingredients are okay, but only if consumed in moderation. Take sugar. Regular sports drinks contain large amounts of sugar – for example, A 20 oz serving of Gatorade’s Thirst Quencher contains 36 g of sugar. In terms of daily recommended amount, that’s more than the maximum for women and almost the maximum for men. Consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain, and many other adverse health issues.
All-natural sports drinks don’t contain added sugar or artificial colours or additives, making them a healthier alternative if you’re going to be consuming sports drinks in large amounts.
3 All-Natural Sports Drinks and Where To Find Them
There’s lots of available all-natural sports drinks that are easy to get, so you don’t have to worry about not having enough options or having a hard time getting the one you like. Here are the 3 most common ones:
Also called hydration tablets, electrolyte tablets are quick-dissolve tablets packed with the vitamins and minerals you need to stay at the top of your game throughout a workout routine, training session or competition. Just drop one in your water bottle, wait a bit, drink up and you’re good to go. A popular one is Nuun Natural Hydration.
We’re not talking about having a glass of O.J, we’re talking about juices that are produced because they have healing properties One such juice is CherryActive Tart Cherry Juice. It’s made of 100% Montmorency tart cherry juice, which can reduce the effects of exercise soreness and aid muscle recovery. You can buy it on CherryActive’s website.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Sports Drinks
There are all-natural sports drinks you can easily whip up at home. You just need the right ingredients. If you’d like some homemade Gatorade, for instance, you’ll need some orange juice, lemon juice, honey, salt and, of course, water. Not only will a glass of it be healthy, it will also surely be refreshing. You can find some more DIY sports drinks recipes here.