Study Shows Sports Drinks Don't Work

The BMJ's recent studies on sports drinks reveal false claims


As the Olympics hold the world’s attention for the next couple of weeks, people may be inspired to get active, to head out with their friends and kick a soccer ball around, to swim, or maybe even to go for a jog. The vast majority of them will sweat like crazy and wonder, what’s the best way to rehydrate? Is it with water or a sports drink? Turns out, we were rightRecent studies from the BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) argue that sports drinks are not the golden ticket to hydration that they’ve been touted as. Actually, the only purpose they serve is to earn money for big companies by suggesting that our natural hydration-regulating mechanism (thirst) just isn’t good enough.

The BMJ released a series of studies that span from the science of sports drinks to the financial motivations behind the sports drinks studies. Turns out that Gatorade, owned by Pepsi Co., and Powerade, owned by Coca-Cola, base their health claims upon research that has been heavily skewed by their parent companies. Sure, staying hydrated is important when undertaking physical activity, but when the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (yes, there actually is one) argues that athletes don’t know how to regulate their own thirst, that’s Pepsi talking, not credible science. 

The majority of studies that sports drink brands have undertaken involve testing on high-level athletes (like Michael Phelps and his 10,000-calorie a day diet) who have nutritional needs different from those of the common consumer. One of the studies conducted by the BMJ showed that not all of the claims that sports drink companies make can even be backed up by concrete data. The health claims aren’t subject to stringent reviews either, a choice that can lead to needless consumption of sugar and calories that does anything but help hydrate you.

A commentary by Timothy Noakes, a sports science professor from the University of Cape Town, argues that the way we have come to conceptualize thirst since the advent of sports drinks is essentially flawed. Noakes says, "Humans do not regulate fluid balance on a moment to moment basis… People optimize their hydration status by drinking according to the dictates of thirst." Basically, you don’t need to guzzle your sports drink; your body knows what’s going on. If you’re thirsty, have some water. If you’re not, don’t. So next time you head to the gym, leave that Powerade for the Olympic hopeful. 

 


Be a Part of the Conversation

Have something to say?
Add a comment (or see what others think).

Comments 5
3.5
Ratings12


Like this story? Get updates by email, facebook and twitter
Get daily food and wine coverage


Latest from The Daily Meal

The Daily Meal Video Network
A Lesson in Limoncello

5 Comments

David Walker's picture

So the answer is that companies are not allowed to tout their products in advertisements??? This is the sort of censorship that Democrats want??? Are you also saying that people are too stupid to figure out what is advertising and what isn't and figure it out for themselves??

tdm-35-icon.png

Yes, let them evaluate their own product and provide an honest report. About as truthful as the advantages of privatizing everything in sight as the good GOP folks often want to do.

tdm-35-icon.png

Yes, let them evaluate their own product and provide an honest report. About as truthful as the advantages of privatizing everything in sight as the good GOP folks often want to do.

tdm-35-icon.png

Yes, let them evaluate their own product and provide an honest report. About as truthful as the advantages of privatizing everything in sight as the good GOP folks often want to do.

tdm-35-icon.png

Nothing like depending on a company to evaluate its own products and provide an honest report. Another reason to privatize everything in sight as the GOP good people often propose.

Add a Comment

Upload a picture of yourself no larger than 3MB, please see Terms for details
CAPTCHA
Please answer this Captcha to prove you are human
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
CAPTCHA
Please answer this Captcha to prove you are human