Do you play sports or workout and feel like you have to drink sports drinks? Did you know that water is just as hydrating, and better for your teeth and body? There are certain activities that sports drinks are necessary to help with electrolyte replacement but on average water is all you need. Sports drinks contain three main ingredients; water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. Water, which our bodies are mostly made up of, is the main ingredient. Next are carbohydrates (sugars), each beverage usually has 6-8%, in the form of glucose, sucrose and fructose. Carbohydrates can help improve performance with exercise lasting 30-75 minutes. The third ingredient is electrolytes which are lost through sweat and are important to replace. Sodium and potassium are the two most common electrolytes found in all leading sport drinks. All three of these ingredients are important when exercising, but electrolytes are the most important in long-duration exercise lasting over 90 minutes. Electrolytes and Carbohydrates are the main difference between sports drinks and water and there is no evidence of any benefit for short-duration actives and average gym- goers. There is evidence that electrolytes can improve performance for long intense cycling and running lasting 30- 90 minutes. Additionally, it’s important to remember sports drinks have lots of calories, and if you’re drinking them but they are not necessary for the exercise you are doing, or you’re drinking them as a daily beverage, that is a lot of unnecessary calories, which could inhibit your weight loss goals.
The other side to sports drinks is the harm they do to your teeth, due to the high sugar levels and acidity. The sugar and acid weaken the tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to bacteria and tooth decay. Sports drinks every once in a while after an intense workout or game is not a huge threat to your teeth. What is dangerous and causes problems is when you have a higher frequency of exposure and you sip on it for a long duration of time. If you are going to be drinking a sports drink, I recommend drinking it all at once rather than leisurely sipping on it over several hours. I would also encourage you to rinse your mouth out with water after to remove any of the sports drink that is lingering on your teeth or in your mouth. A few additional tips are; purchase the sports drinks that are low sugar and low acid, alternate sips with water, and avoid swishing it around in your mouth. Finally, to prevent any additional damage to your teeth, do not brush within 45 minutes after drinking a sports drink. If you brush too soon after, the softened enamel can be damaged by the abrasiveness of your toothbrush or toothpaste.
Remember sports drinks were originally designed to help replace electrolytes with high intensity physical exercise. They are not a healthy choice for daily drinking for adults or children, and have been linked to weight gain and obesity especially in teens. If your lifestyle requires you to take in more electrolytes, I would encourage you to consider other supplements that are available that promote the same result with less risk for harming your teeth.