Ask Ginger: The Skinny on Sports Drinks
Aug 29

Ask Ginger: The Skinny on Sports Drinks

By Let's Move Pittsburgh

You've got questions ... we’ve got answers! Email your queries about healthy foods, physical activity and screen time for kids and Ginger will answer them here on the Phipps blog.

Q: My family has spent a lot of time watching the Olympics these last few weeks, and it has really encouraged my children to go outside and compete in their own Olympic games. We have also seen many commercials with athletes drinking sports drinks while they work out, which is encouraging my children to want to drink these drinks too. Are sports drinks a good option for my children to drink to rehydrate?  (Heather, Polish Hill)

A: Great question! Although we see many athletes drinking sports drinks, they are not the best option for our young athletes at home. Sports drinks were created for athletes participating in prolonged vigorous activity, such as marathon training and cycling races. For youth who participate in physical activity for less than 3 hours at a time, sports drinks are unnecessary.1 Sports drinks contain a lot of sugar and salt. A typical 32-ounce sports drink has 14 teaspoons of sugar, which is equivalent to 22 Starburst candies, and nearly one third of the daily recommended intake of salt.1 Water, on the other hand, contains no sugar, no salt and no calories making it the healthiest option for hydration.

It can be difficult at first to encourage children to drink water rather than these sugar-sweetened beverages they see athletes drinking. Here are a few creative and fun ways to gradually incorporate more water into your child’s diet:

  • Add fruit slices (lemons, limes, watermelons, strawberries, oranges) to plain or sparkling water
  • Freeze small pieces of fruit into your ice cubes to add some color to water
  • Buy fun water bottles for your children to use
  • Use silly straws to make drinking water more fun
  • Add a splash of 100% fruit juice to plain or sparkling water for more flavor
  • Keep water bottles handy in the fridge so children can easily grab them and go
  • Be a role model. Drink water when you exercise to encourage your children to model your behavior.

Keeping water colorful and fun is key when making the 5-2-1-0 switch to 0 sugary drinks and more water every day!

1 Water and Sports Drinks | Kick the Can