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Choose water over sports drinks… here’s why

Apr 30, 2015
written by: Catherine Cameron
written by: Catherine Cameron
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Choose water over sports drinks – here’s why

I’m often amazed at my youngest daughter’s one-hour house league games, to see how many parents are pushing sports drinks into the hands of their kids – often guzzling the red, white, orange, and blue beverages themselves as they stand on the sidelines.

Though the clear, calorie-free stuff streaming from our taps may not have the same allure as some of the celebrity-endorsed, colourful, or neatly packed sports drinks readily available and usually prominently displayed, water is the smart choice for most of us. I like this article, Obey your thirst, just not necessarily with a sport drink, written by Jennifer Sygo that appeared in the National Post. Her perspective: “For most workouts, practices, training sessions, or games, drinking water according to thirst is usually enough. In a world where we, as a population, consume far too much sugar and salt, encouraging the average person to use a sports drink for routine bouts of fitness or activity is doing them a disservice” is in-line with my own perspective on these sugary beverages – all too often marketed to kids.

According to Ottawa-based physician, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, “the number of children in Canada, who would benefit from or require a sport drink following an hour or two of activity, is likely in the neighbourhood of zero. Ask your kids if they’re thirsty and if they say yes, hand them ice cold water” he suggests. Follow Dr. Freedhoff on Twitter as well as his blog, Weighty Matters.

Proper hydration however, is critical. Water is essential to digestion and metabolism, and assists with chemical reactions, transporting oxygen through our blood, regulating our body temperatures, and more. Our bodies lose water throughout the day and there are multiple factors that increase our need for it: drinking alcohol, exercise, warm weather, pregnancy, diarrhea and vomiting, and more. Taking in some extra fluid before a game or workout; taking frequent sips while exercising; and replenishing water lost through prolonged or extensive sweating, is essential.

My rule of thumb when exercising is as follows: I consume 8-16 ounces of water 60-90 minutes before exercising, and I try to drink 4-8 ounces every 15 minutes while active. When exercising in the heat, such as running or playing tennis, I strive to drink 16-24 ounces of water an hour or two before exercising, and increase my consumption throughout my workout. The general rule of thumb post-exercise is to drink another 16 ounces for every pound of body weight lost.

Here’s why water works for me:

1.    It keeps me hydrated, contributing to better physical and mental performance

2.    No calories

3.    No caffeine

4.    No additives (do you really want to put something “blue” into your body?)

5.    Supports our functional needs adequately (i.e. digestion. temperature regulation)

6.    Leaves my skin glowing

The next time you’re tempted to reach for a sports drink, reach for your water bottle and turn on the tap. It’s the drink your body craves.

Share your opinion with us @Cate_Cameron and @TennisCanada.