There are a number of different sports drinks on the market. More and more, kids are drinking them, along with soda & juice, as part of their regular fluid intake, even when they are not active.
Sports drinks are marketed to rehydrate and replace electrolytes that have been lost during exercise. Don’t get me wrong, electrolytes are very important as they are necessary for proper muscle contraction and to generate energy in the body. However, these types of drinks provide few nutrients and contain high amounts of refined sugars, artificial colours, and flavours.
Gatorade is the most well-known company on the market. They are owned by Pepsi-Cola and hold approximately 75% of the market share in the sports drink category. They are also endorsed by a number of different athletes that kids look up to. On their website, Gatorade displays all 30 athletes they sponsor, including Sidney Crosby, Usain Bolt, & Michael Jordan.
Gatorade has a number of different products on the market but their G-perform contains 30 grams of sugar and their Thirst Quencher a whopping 42 grams, that’s 10½ teaspoons of sugar in just one 710 ml bottle, that’s more sugar than in a can of Coke!
My 5 year old son plays soccer & softball during the summer, but because his energy output isn’t what I would call strenuous, I know he doesn’t need a sports drink after his games. I actually think he breaks more of a sweat at the local indoor playground!
So when do kids need to replace their electrolytes? Well, they are only needed if they have engaged in a solid period of hard & strenuous activity and are sweating a lot. If after exercising, your child suffers from muscle cramping, light-headedness, trouble concentrating, or heart palpitations, this could be a sign that they need electrolytes. However, before reaching for the Gatorade, check out the following healthier food & drink options.
Coconut water is a clear, sweet liquid with a nutty taste, it is found inside young, green coconuts. It is a great source of electrolytes and will keep the body well hydrated. There are a number of different brands on the market today – 2 of my favourites are Vita Coco & Zico. When choosing coconut water choose the unflavoured versions as they will have less sugar.
Kiki Maple Water
This is made with maple sweet water as the base ingredient (this is the liquid that comes directly from the maple tree). It provides vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes and the flavoured versions are sweetened with maple syrup, which is a natural sweetener.
Bananas are great post-exercise snacks as they are high in potassium (which helps replenish those electrolytes). One banana and a large glass of water will provide everything your child needs to rehydrate
If you like the idea of Gatorade and think you will have a tough time convincing your child to stop drinking it, here is a recipe I have taken from, ‘Whole Foods to Thrive’ by Brendan Brazier, to make your own sports drink.
Lemon Lime Sports Drink (2 Servings)
1 cup coconut water
1 cup water
2 dates (presoak dried dates)
½ lemon, juiced
¼ lime, juiced
Sea salt to taste
Blend all ingredients together. Strain out the pulp using a mesh sieve, cheesecloth or nut milk bag if preferred. Serve cold.
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Melanie Grime RHN