Sports Drinks

In my last newsletter, I wrote a bit about the copious amounts of sugar hidden in many of the snacks, drinks, and foods we are consuming on a daily basis.  

This Sugar Warning started when I was working with Minnesota United as the Strength and Conditioning coach. I posted this sugar warning in the locker room one day and the guys began to ask questions. They were intrigued by the amount of sugar in the sports drinks they were drinking daily and the decrease in performance associated with all of the added sugar.

Our kids would see our professional athletes drinking these sports drinks and, of course, it became the cool thing to do.  

In my family we have a lacrosse player, a dancer, a gymnast, and a couple of soccer players. They would love nothing more than to drink that bright blue, orange, or green sugary sports drink during games and practices. However, we noticed a difference in our athletes and our kids when we replenished them with what they needed as opposed to what they thought they needed.

Let me paint a picture of hydration for you and your kids.

The basis for hydration starts at drinking ½ ounce of water per pound of bodyweight daily.  This is the basis. That means you need this minimum to stay hydrated if you don’t sweat at all. Coffee, tea, soda, juice, ...doesn’t count at all here!

For every 1lb of sweat that you lose, you need 16-20 ounces of water to replace it. And 1lb of water weight loss is a low number. For example, during a 90 minute soccer game it's not too uncommon to see 6-10lb of water weight loss. So for every high intensity workout you do it’s likely that if you are sweating you are losing anywhere from 3-5lbs of water.

We have to replace that fluid loss to stay hydrated, but it’s not just about replacing the fluid loss with water. We need electrolytes. Our body is a complex system of electrical currents and without things like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, we see a huge decline in performance, change in behavior, and muscle contraction.

If we just give our kids water, it’s not enough. If we give them a sports drink with sugar and artificial food coloring we see a reversal in electrolyte balance. In other words, the amount of sugar in most sports drinks steal from the electrolytes it already has and we see a zero net improvement in hydration and performance.

As you replenish, think about these numbers. For every 1lb of water lost, you also lose:

  • 220 milligrams of sodium

  • 63 milligrams of potassium

  • 8 milligrams of magnesium

  • 16 milligrams of calcium

So, at a minimum on a hot summer day or after a tough workout you need enough to replenish these electrolyte numbers.

Here is how we do it with our kids and what we recommend to our professional athletes. After a game or practice, skip the sports drinks, and replenish using something that has zero sugar and has the electrolytes you see above. We use a few products:

  • Ultima replenisher: This gets mixed with water for after practices and games. Kids love the taste!

  • ConcenTrace mineral drops: These go into a big pitcher we keep on the counter, so whenever they drink water they are getting nutrients.

  • nuun: These are pretty widely available now. Just check the ingredients before giving them to your kids as some contain caffeine.

What are you and your kids drinking?