“Sports drinks can replenish some of what you lost during exercise, but you really need to be exercising for more than 45 minutes to an hour before you would consider that,” Dr. Matthew Silvis, director of primary-care sports medicine at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said in a "Medical Minute" news release. “Many of our kids are not doing enough to warrant it.”
And with most 20 ounce sports drinks having about 9 teaspoons or 3 tablespoons of added sugar in them, the release notes that this only adds to the nation's childhood obesity epidemic. The American Heart Association recommends that children and teens should consume less than 6 teaspoons of added sugars a day (4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon).
Thirty-six percent of Kentucky's children are either overweight or obese, and studies show that overweight children are likely to become overweight adults.
“Kids and adolescents really should not be using these drinks,” Dr. Katie Gloyer, a primary care sports medicine physician at Penn State Medical Group in State College, said in the release. “Water is the best method of hydration.”
Another concern is the emergence of energy drinks, which are loaded with caffeine and other stimulants.
The release notes that energy drinks are not regulated, contain harmful products and easily exceed safe levels of caffeine and other stimulants, adding that they "can elevate blood pressure and cause cardiac problems such as palpitations and arrhythmias, not to mention giving the user headaches, an upset stomach and a general jittery or nervous feeling."
"For children and adolescents, energy drinks can be downright dangerous," it says.
“If they are playing 30- or 45-minute halves, they should have a water break and maybe add fresh orange slices or a granola bar to add a bit of sugar and/or protein at an appropriate level,” Silvis suggested.
And for post-workout recovery, he said either low-fat or whole chocolate milk works just as well – if not better – than the fancy recovery drinks now on the market.
However, he added that if weight loss is the goal, water is always the best choice: “Otherwise you can end up drinking more calories than you burned while exercising.”