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6 things you should know about sports drinks

6 things you should know about sports drinks

Sports drinks and energy drinks are being marketed to children and teens every day telling them they need more energy to perform well in sports, school or life. But according to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should not consume them for any reason. 

Here are six things to keep in mind when it comes to your children and sports/energy drinks:

1)    Most children and teens only need water and a well-balanced diet to recover from being physically active. The problem with sports drinks is that they contain a lot of calories that are wasted with no nutritional value. The electrolytes contained in these drinks provide no benefit to the child. A normal diet will easily replenish electrolytes that are lost with activity.

2)    While energy drinks may sometimes be low in calories, the caffeine can cause an unsafe increase in heart rate or blood pressure. Caffeine can make urination more frequent and cause dehydration during sporting activities. Teens that use caffeine often report issues with sleeping, mood changes and anxiety.

3)    There is a lot of misuse by teens of both sports drinks and energy drinks. They are being used as recreational drinks and not for recovery from vigorous sports activity.  The true effect of caffeine on developing teen brains is unknown, but we do believe that there is a higher chance for addiction in this age group.

4)    Sports drinks should not be used in replacement of meals or snacks.

5)    Sports drinks should not be available in the school setting. The reason for increased marketing of these drinks to young people is likely due to the restrictions placed on soda availability in the school. When the soda companies were told to get soda out of schools, the companies started pushing these drinks as a “healthier alternative,” even though they are not.

6)    Sports drinks are no different than soda or other “empty calories” and are contributing to the overweight and obesity epidemic our children are facing. Continue to follow the 5-2-1-0 rule and you will be just fine:

  • 5 fruit and veggie servings per day
  • 2 hours MAX of screen time (time in front of a TV, computer, phone, etc)
  • 1 hour of activity per day
  • 0 drinks that contain calories. This includes sports drinks, soda, juice, etc. 

Though energy drinks may seem to offer more, nothing beats plain old water and nutrition-rich foods when it comes to quenching thirst and recovering from strenuous activity.

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About the Author

Dr. Aaron Traeger
Dr. Aaron Traeger

Dr. Aaron Traeger is a pediatrician at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Medical Group. His philosophy of care focuses on providing an outstanding medical home that not only focuses on illness but also on child development and family interactions.