By Nancy Mehlert, MS.
There are a couple of well known electrolyte and hydration drinks popular in the marketplace today. Everyone has seen commercials and ads for them. Common to the sports scene in our schools, colleges, and professional sports, these sweet, fruity flavored hydrators are sold by some of the largest beverage retailers in the world. In addition, many companies make cheaper knock-offs. That makes them very affordable and easily obtained, but what about the ingredients? Should we be concerned? ABSOLUTELY!
These beverages, whether you have chosen the zero sugar options, the regular, or even the organic, have a number of concerning ingredients. Sugar content is the first concern. Remember, the intended goal of these beverages is to return water to the body and to bring electrolytes (sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate and magnesium) back into the body. The need is not sugar, yet the most popular versions contribute more than 45-50 grams of sugar in each bottle. Considering our optimal blood sugar at any given moment should be about 4 grams, these drinks elevate blood sugar immediately by more than 10 times. This creates a very dysregulated blood sugar problem for the body. Another concerning ingredient is the sweetener most commonly used in lieu of sugar. While sucralose removes the sugar, this artificial sweetener is known for destroying the favorable bacteria in the GI tract, contributing to yeast overgrowth and leaky gut syndromes. Two additional concerning ingredients include food dyes and caramel coloring. There are a number of health concerns from these man-made chemicals, ranging from cancers to allergic reactions. All of these concerning ingredients can be avoided with a little effort.
Perfection is difficult to find. The recommendations below would be a significant improvement over most options offered by our largest retailers. I’ve listed them in descending order from satisfactory to the most ideal. The more sugar it contains, the better it is to use before and during very demanding and high activity exercise. Everyone needs less sugar, more water, and good electrolytes.
- Nuun Rapid Instant Hydration portable packets
- Harmless Harvest coconut water (pure coconut water, 23g naturally occurring sugar) ok for very active people
- Ultimareplenisher.com – Hydration Powder stick packs
- Liquid IV (11 g of sugar) ok for very active people
- Keynutrients.com – Electrolyte Recovery Plus, Keto approved, Lemonade flavor
- 8 ounces of water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a pinch of Redmond’s Sea Salt, along with eating your vegetables (an excellent source of electrolytes and water)!
Support your health and that of your family. Small changes add up to greater health and wellness.
Standard Gatorade, ½ a bottle is 22g or whole bottle 51 g of sugar:
WATER, SUGAR, DEXTROSE, CITRIC ACID, SALT, SODIUM CITRATE, MONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, NATURAL FLAVOR, GLYCEROL ESTER OF ROSIN, RED 40, CARAMEL COLOR
Organic Thirst Quencher, Berry Flavor by Gatorade – 30 g of sugar:
WATER, ORGANIC SUGAR, CITRIC ACID, ORGANIC NATURAL FLAVOR, SEA SALT, SODIUM CITRATE, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE
WATER, CITRIC ACID, SODIUM CITRATE, SALT, MONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, GUM ARABIC, NATURAL FLAVOR, SUCRALOSE, ACESULFAME POTASSIUM, SUCROSE ACETATE ISOBUTYRATE, GLYCEROL ESTER OF ROSIN, YELLOW 6.