Water versus Energy Drinks
Watching television, you would think that energy drinks and sports drinks are miracle cure-alls for athletes, promising top notch hydration in a vibrantly colored liquid. Sports drinks companies spend millions of dollars on slick commercials of athletes sweating orange and purple liquid through their pours, winning big football games, and running in slow motion. It is almost as if they are trying to convince you of something – after all, you don’t see bottled spring water companies advertising the same way. Before you pick up a bottle of any sugary, chemical-laden beverage, ask yourself this: are sports drinks really better than nature’s star beverage – spring water?
Sports – and the athletes that play them – have been around four thousands of years. Rigorous activities have existed since the dawn of man, back when cavemen battled wooly mammoths. Those ancient ancestors didn’t have sports drinks to fuel them while they fought off saber-toothed tigers – they just had good, natural H20.
There is some debate about which is better for hydration – water or sports drinks, but the real question is not only which is better for hydration, but which is better for you, as a person.
For starters, water is the most natural beverage on the planet. It contains no sugars and no chemicals, and therefore, is the easiest liquid for your body to ingest and process. In addition, because water contains no sugar, it is naturally calorie free, meaning it is great for keeping in shape.
Some people say they prefer sports drinks because of the added flavoring, and if you find yourself in that boat, don’t give up on water just yet. Adding fruits such as watermelon, cucumber, lemon, or strawberries, as well as herbs such as basil, tarragon, or mint, makes spring water a healthy, great tasting alternative to sugary sports drinks.
For athletes worried about replacing electrolytes, you can always opt to create your own electrolyte water – there are plenty of recipes available on the Internet and in fitness magazines. Adding ingredients such as lemon/lime juice, salt, and some freshly squeezed orange not only adds flavor, but helps replace vital minerals we lose when we perform strenuous activities like running or lifting weights.
Of course, drinking water is only part of the way to stay properly hydrated and keep your body functioning on all cylinders. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits during the day is another natural way to replenish electrolytes without reaching for a sugary drink. Kale, coconut, melons, honey, broccoli, and other nutrient rich, high-water content foods are great hydraters and provide your body with other essential vitamins and nutrients.
So next time you see a basketball player oozing a neon green liquid from his pores while he slam dunks a flaming basketball, enjoy it for what it is: hype. Then grab yourself a bottle of refreshing spring water, a healthy snack, and leave the dramatics for the advertising companies.