The short answer: most of the time, they don’t need a sports drink, premium or not!
When there’s money to made, lots of companies are willing to jump into the ring to compete which leads to more marketing designed to convince us we need something we really don’t. Case in point, as of 2013, sports drinks are a $6.9 billion market and new companies are looking to take down the old standbys at every turn.
Fooducate recently reviewed one such sports drink aimed at making parents feel better about their kids’ sports drink options.
Fooducate’s review on the pros and cons of this particular sports drink are worth hopping over to the site to read.
What strikes me most is how, again and again, I see parents feeling compelled to give their kids (and themselves) sports drinks for fear the athlete will not recover from a game or training session without them. Serving up 9 teaspoons of sugar, these drinks are not a positive for athletes unless they’ve really expended a lot of energy or lost a number of pounds of fluid. Honestly, most of us just aren’t training for that long at that high of an intensity.
The threshold for sports drink usage is above 60 minutes of intense exercise (with the common sense caveat of high heat/high humidity conditions will make this time shorter). Under the 60 minute threshold, with normal environmental conditions, where, let’s be honest, most kids train and compete most of the time, water and fruit will work just fine to rehydrate and replenish any lost electrolytes. Plus, let’s face it, the fruit is going to give the athlete fiber, vitamins, minerals and a mindset that real food is a better alternative to manufactured food. A neon blue sports drink just can’t compete with that!
Ultra-hyped sports products almost never live up to their performance promises. While your athletes may not have to worry about the obesity crisis in the same way other kids do, you still want to give them the tools that will best serve them well into adulthood. Learning the importance of rehydrating with water and refueling with fruit is one of the lessons that will help them maintain their athletic abilities long into the future.
For more information on sports drink guidelines, check out this great guide from the American College of Sports Medicine!