Sports drinks don’t offer a competitive edge

Sports drinks don’t offer a competitive edge

With 77 million individuals consuming sports drinks and superstar athletes appearing in commercials for the performance enhancing beverages, one might think they offer major competitive advantages.

Researchers say this may not be the case. A study of Canadian cyclists found no difference in performance between those riding with an IV drip of saline – a key ingredient in sports drinks – and those who had an IV without the fluid.

Lead author Stephen Cheung said the study not only proved that sports drinks don’t improve performance, but challenged the belief that dehydration impacts performance.

“Your body is more stressed with dehydration. So no questions there,” Cheung said in an interview. “But the performance was not different. And also none of these competitive elite athletes were at any [health] danger.”

Dr. Jeffrey Kazaglis, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill., agrees with the study and believes sports drinks are a product of exceptional marketing and marginal science.

“I recommend water as the best source of hydration for all sporting events,” he says. “This can be supplemented with fresh fruits such as bananas or orange slices. A daily multi-vitamin and possibly some extra Vitamin D and calcium is all you need.”

Related Posts



  1. Ronald Hirsch May 18, 2015 at 9:58 am · Reply

    It is true that sports drinks provide no value, but it is also true of daily multivitamins and vitamin D. They provide no benefit at all to most people.

  2. After running two marathons over the past three years, I know the difference between only drinking water and drinking an electrolyte/glucose drink. There is a huge difference when you are actually depleting your body of these essential nutrients. Maybe it’s just on these long grueling activities and not on your daily or weekly sporting events that these drinks can make the difference. While backpacking, I usually mix a table spoon or two of sugar or syrup into a Gatorade and I am good to go for another 10 miles. Granted, I would never spend money on a drink for my normal workouts, that’s just wasteful when I can have those nutrients stored in my body from my normal diet. It’s only water for me then.
    But can I also say that having a needle stuck in my body while I work out, like in the stated study, would be very uncomfortable and would definitely affect my performance.

    • I agree with that for normal workouts where you are not depleting your body of nutrients sports drinks are unnessary. The science behind formulated sports drinks is backed up by hundreds of valid studies for years. We need to take a look at the fine print and significance of the results of this ONE study. Depletion of sodium, carbohydrates and fluids can impact exercise performance. I am one athlete that will continue to take sports drinks for endurance events, distance training and recovery despite what this study says and I will encourage my fellow athletes to do the same.

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.