People Still Buying Sports Drinks Despite Scientific Proof They Don't Work

The newest research shows sports drinks won't help your athletic performance — not that you're listening

Flickr/ Fillmore Photography
More evidence shows that sports drinks won't help your athletic performance.

You all are still drinking sports drinks? Despite more evidence to show that sports drinks won't actually help you in sports, people are still lapping them up. 

The newest research, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, fights the common perception that carbohydrate-based sports drinks will help improve performance for marathon and half-marathon runners. In the study, 12 male atheletes ran 19.2 kilometer (nearly 12 mile)-races four separate times, and were "supplemented" a carbohydrate-sports drink every two and half miles. Says Runner's World, "The only thing different among the four time trials was what they drank; in random order, each runner drank only Gatorade, Accelerade (a carbs-plus-protein drink), stronger-than-average Gatorade, or an artificially sweetened non-caloric drink (Crystal Light)." What the researchers found? The drinks had no effect on the runners' times or endurance. 

Of course, the researchers from the University of Tennessee Knoxville are not the first to prove this; other studies exmaining the effects of sports drinks had similar results. Runner's World points out why some of these faulty studies show that sports drinks do work — the subjects are tested on endurance bikes, and "often involve riding at a set intensity until exhaustion." Writer Scott Douglas continues, "Of course, that's not what happens in road races — you aim to run a certain distance as fast as possible, not to maintain a certain intensity as long as possible." 

However, it seems that it doesn't make much of a difference anyways — Gatorade and Powerade are still the leading sports drinks on the market. New numbers from Symphony IRI (a market research group) show that sales of single-serve sports drinks in convenience stores jumped up nearly 9 percent in 2012, with sales up to to $2.46 billion. According to Convenience Store Decisions, "Gatorade Perform was the top brand in the category by a wide margin, outselling the No. 2 SKU Powerade ION4 by nearly four to one ($1.37 billion and $378 million, respectively)." So you know, keep drinking the stuff — but the science proves it's not going to help you. You can click here to find more sports drinks myths — and which ones to buy and not buy.


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