In college, I went on a full scholarship to run track at Bucknell University and I think I drank my weight in Gatorade every weekend there was an invitational. Blue Frost, or something like that, was my favorite and it was one of my “must-haves” for race day. Oh boy, if I knew then what I know now…that Gatorade was doing me more harm than good…I would have stayed away from it and probably would have run faster and felt stronger as a consequence.
I recently had the privilege to speak to a group of 7th grade basketball student-athletes and I shared my collegiate experience as well as healthier sports drink alternatives (the ones I wish I knew about).
You may be wondering why it even matters.
The problem is that Gatorade is flooded with sugar.
Here is the nutritional label from the Blue Frost Gatorade that I used to consume on a regular basis. There are 34 grams of sugar in one 20 ounce bottle. Let’s do the math and convert it into something a bit more recognizable.
There are 4 grams of sugar in each teaspoon of sugar.
34 grams / 4 grams = 8.5 teaspoons
**Take a pause and visualize that for a second. Drinking 8.5 teaspoons of sugar.**
Even the ingredient list highlights sugar and dextrose (hidden form of sugar) as its main ingredients.
What we know now is that sugar - specifically refined sugar - will drain energy, wreak havoc on the liver, weaken the immune system and contribute to chronic inflammation. This is not the best source of fuel for an athlete or anyone, really.
However, dehydration is a very real concern and athletics and hydration go hand in hand. If you eat too much sugar, you’ll feel low energy, but at the same time if you feel dehydrated, you’ll also feel low energy. As an athlete, I was sure to drink sports drinks before my races and lots of water to recover afterwards so I don’t believe I was dehydrated, but I was drinking an inefficient sports drink.
The star of this new and improved energy drink is coconut water.
Coconut water has naturally occurring electrolytes, vitamin C, B vitamins and protein - it’s the perfect sports drink alternative and I will also give this to my kids when they are sick instead of Pedialyte.
Coconut Water Sports Drink
In a pint size mason jar (with a lid), mix together the following:
1 cup coconut water
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 cup filtered water
Have you tried coconut water before? What are your thoughts?