Sport Drinks: Good or Bad? | Should You Drink Them Instead of Water?

are fitness drinks healthy

So, what’s the one “healthy” practise that we see advertised everyday by athletes that is in fact jeopardising your health?

Consuming health & sports drinks that are not actually healthy – but they sure look like they are!

As scary as it sounds, this is no mistake… It’s a marketing tactic called “green washing’ or “health washing” used by food and beverage companies to mislead YOU, the consumer. They will often use words like “organic”, “green”, “natural”, or “100% fruit” in efforts to hide the sugar, artificial sweeteners or chemical additives.

Note: This is not to say all products labeled this way are deceiving you. There are many companies full of integrity who are focused on creating quality products. Just be sure to read the label. I’m going to show you exactly how to do that, let’s dive in!

WARNING: Sports Drinks Can Be Sugar Traps

As we all grow more and more health conscious and start seeking healthier foods, we end up turning away from the unhealthy stuff like ice cream, cookies, various cereal bars and soft drinks.

This creates a market for deceivingly “healthy” foods and beverages – products made with the sole purpose to mislead you as the customer. They’ll hide cheap fillers, additives, chemical ingredients, sugars and artificial sweeteners just so they can turn a larger profit and use healthy terms like “all-natural” on the label. While they may be marketed as healthy, sometimes these sport drinks/products will have just as much, if not more sugar than a can of soda.

Natural Sugar VS Added Sugar

Sugar is not always bad. All fruits, vegetables and dairy products naturally contain sugar. “Added sugar” is a different story. This is processed/extra sugar which is added into the product for flavouring purposes during processing. This is the stuff we want to stay away from.

You see, anytime we consume sugar some of it is used for energy. But when we consume too much our body doesn’t properly eliminate the excess sugar which is then stored for later and converted into body fat. Overtime this may lead to obesity, diabetes, inflammation, dental issues and other health related problems.

When we consume sugar from fruit it contains fiber. Fiber slows down the digestion process enabling our bodies to utilize more of the sugar before it gets stored away on your waist line as fat. Think of fiber kinda like the best friend you never knew you had.

Read The Label + Calculate The Sugar

As you may already know, we don’t believe in “counting calories” in the traditional sense. But you do need to learn how to read nutrition labels and understand what’s hidden in the foods/drinks you consume. Here’s how.

1. Turn over the drink/food product to the nutrition label

2. Check the label for sugars (both natural and added sugar). Count and add up the total grams of sugar.

Grams of Natural Sugar + Grams of Added Sugar = Total Grams of Sugar

3. Each gram of sugar has 4 calories. Multiply your “Total Grams of Sugar” by 4. This will give you your total calories of sugar for that product.

Play the comparison game. Is your drink/food product mostly made up of sugar? If so, you may want to find a healthier choice.

Pro Tip: You can also check the ingredients list. If sugar one of the top 4 in the list that means your drink is mostly sugar.

Watch Out For These Hidden Sugar Forms

  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Sucrose: also known as table sugar, it is 50% glucose and 50% fructose
  • Barley malt and barley malt syrup
  • Evaporated cane juice; evaporated cane juice; cane juice
  • HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup)
  • Fruit juice and fruit juice concentrate
  • Cane juice crystals and cane juice
  • Agave nectar
  • Aspartame
  • Acesulfame
  • Carob syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltol
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado
  • Saccharin
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado
  • Xylitol

Chemical Additives To Watch Out For

  • Red #40
  • Blue #4
  • Yellow #6 and #5
  • PEG (Polyethylene Glycol)
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Sodium Nitrate
  • Carrageenan
  • Sodium Benzoate

(Read the article on Artificial Sweeteners to dive deeper)

Deceptive Sports & Health Drinks That Will Add Pounds To Your Waist Line

  • 100% Fruit Juice (This is a tricky one. Be sure to read the label)
  • Aloe Vera
  • Ice Teas
  • Lemonade
  • Fizzy flavoured water
  • Vitamin water
  • Sweetened almond milk/nut milks
  • Flavoured yogurt
  • Flavoured water

Remember that it is okay to live a little. If you enjoy some of these beverages just remember moderation is key and don’t over-do it.

So, What The Heck Can I Drink Post Workout?

  • Water (Try adding some extra minerals from sea salt with some lemon)
  • Alkaline Water (Add your favorite berries or slices of cucumber)
  • Mint Water
  • Coconut Water (100% pure only)
  • Unsweetened green/black tea
  • Vegetable smoothie, or Limitless Greens

Bottom line, not all sugar is bad and when consumed in moderation with fiber it can be an excellent source of energy. Be cautious of deceptive marketing and be sure to always read the labels! If you ever have any questions or are unsure, we are always happy to help. Send us an email or connect through our Live Chat. Above all, remember to enjoy yourself and safely indulge within moderation.


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