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Sports Drinks: Healthy or Hype?

Sports drinks are meant to be used as a replacement for loss of water and electrolytes in athletes.  However, it is estimated that less than 1 percent of the people who use sports drinks are actually benefiting from them.  Why?  Most people are not exercising hard enough to warrant their use.  If you are exercising for 30-45 minutes a day, at a moderate intensity, then water is the best thing to help you stay hydrated.  If you are exercising for more than 45 minutes (or at a very high intensity, or in extreme conditions such as high heat), then you may need more than just water.  However, I still caution the use of store-bought sports drinks because most contain high amounts of sugar (nearly as much as many sodas), HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), artificial flavors and food coloring, and high levels of acidity to extend shelf life.  (Researchers cut calves’ teeth in half and immersed them in either a sports drink or water.  After 90 minutes, the ones placed in sports drinks had developed dozens of tiny holes!  Incidentally, there was no damage to the ones immersed in water.)

If you exercise for more than more than 45 minutes there are healthy (and less-expensive) alternatives to store-bought sports drinks.

Home-Made Sports Drink

(makes about 1 quart)

  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 4 Tblsp. raw honey
  • ¼ tsp. Himalayan sea salt
  • juice of 2 lemons or limes (or one of each)

This is a tasty and healthy alternative to store-bought sports drinks for those days when you are exercising for long periods or in extreme heat conditions!

(Another great option for a sports drink is coconut water.  It contains more potassium per serving than a banana and is one of the highest known sources of electrolytes!)



Helping you live more!™

The information in this document and on is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Jill Tiffany, CN, CPT. Jill encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

Jill Tiffany runs a private practice in Baldwin, WI, as a Clinical Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer. She has been a health educator for over 20 years coaching high school athletics, teaching Physical Education, serving as a consultant for athletic teams, and implementing wellness plans for corporations. Jill is a nutrition and fitness writer for Midwest Events Magazine and; she also serves on the Health Advisory board for Supplement Spot™. More info:

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