sports drinks or sugar water?

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Most of my clients drink water during our sessions.  I have one client who sees me at 6:30 a.m. (yes… I start work at 6:30 a.m…aren’t you glad you’re not a personal trainer?) and she usually starts her day with a half-cranberry-half-water with a scoop of fibre supplement.  Another client always has a jug of water and a half cup of black coffee for sipping.  Everyone is different! Me? Personally, I’m a water gal. Cold.  And lots of it. Sometimes, in Belly Bootcamp classes, a tired mommy lacking that “zip” we all used to have before night feedings and temper tantrums will bring in a sports drink.  II see a mommy chugging back a Gatorade or Powerade, class after class, I have to step in. Do you drink sports drinks? If you do, do you realize that they contain about 50 calories per cup?  A 32-ounce sports drink contains approximately 200 calories and almost 80 grams of sugar! You might as well eat a chocolate bar. These “ades” were originally designed for use in endurance sports and by endurance athletes who are exercising several hours straight and require sugar, sodium and fluid replenished in the most efficient manner. OK, so they were designed for athletes.  But who do the beverage companies market their “sports drinks” to?

  • Kids
  • Mommies
  • Hungover people
  • Weekend warriors
  • Gym-goers

None of which usually qualify as “endurance athletes”. Coca-Cola defends the high-sugar, high-sodium content of its sports drink, Powerade, as follows:  “Sports drinks are designed for people who are exercising or working and need to replace electrolytes and energy. The only circumstances under which we can envision in which a person would consume an entire 32 ounce. bottle of POWERade is during or after strenuous exercise.” In other words, you’re supposed to buy the giant bottle of Powerade and drink only a quarter of it, then save the rest for the next time you need to “replace electrolytes and energy.” Yeah, right. My advice? Skip the sports drinks unless you’re training for a marathon.  And if you are training for a marathon, consider making your own sports drink with natural ingredients and minimal sugar & sodium. Here’s a quick recipe to make your own sports drink when you’re planning a long (i.e., more than 60 minutes) workout:

  • 1 bottle water
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 pinches salt
  • Lemon to taste

Shake to combine. Chill and drink during and after longer workouts. If you need something refreshing on the go, consider a flavoured water or enhanced water but choose something with zero or few calories.  My favourite choice is vitaminwater 10 – I can fit 10 calories into my diet and vitaminwater is sodium-free. Be sure to read labels. Don’t fall for marketing tricks or convince yourself that a spinning class is an “endurance event.”  It’s a workout.  Drink water most times.  When you’re sick of water, be a smart consumer and choose wisely. Or pay the price on your waistline!

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