Sports drinks are beverages that are commonly consumed in the average household. They are a part of the daily routine for many people, including children, due to many believing that they are a good source of hydration. Contrary to many beliefs, that may not be the case.

What’s in Sports Drinks?

Sports drinks contain electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride in amounts that are easy for the body to absorb. During exercise, these nutrients as well as body fluids are lost in sweat and need to be replenished, especially if exercise is continued. Sports drinks will replace these minerals and carbohydrates that are lost and rebalance the body’s fluids. In return, the person’s performance will be improved.

What About People Who Aren’t Athletes?

Sports drinks can be very helpful to those who engage in high amounts of physical activity for long periods, but it’s not so helpful for people who are non-athletic. Generally, people who are not athletes do not engage in enough strenuous activity to benefit from sports drinks.

When it comes to the average person that is not regularly engaging in high amounts of physical activity it gets a little tricky. If the body is not being quickly depleted of minerals and carbohydrates, the ingredients in most sports drinks are not necessary, and water will be enough to maintain hydration. If the average person consumes sports drinks in excess, the sugar and extra calories may lead to weight gain and tooth decay, especially in children. The main ingredients in these drinks usually include sucrose, glucose, or high fructose corn syrup. All of those ingredients are a form of sugar, and they contribute to the high caloric content of the drink.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Bottom line is: if you are engaging in strenuous exercise for 45 minutes or more, 5 days a week, such as playing basketball, football, soccer, riding a bike or going for a run, etc., and are sweating a lot, you will be able to benefit from sports drinks. Consumption of sports drinks are safe and sometimes necessary for athletes to continue their performance, as long as the drinks do not contain other ingredients that are unregulated. These ingredients include caffeine and herbs. However, if you do not exercise regularly for long periods of time it’s best to limit your consumption of these drinks. Water may be the best form of hydration.