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Sports Drinks or Water?

Updated: Mar 8, 2020

Do you send a sports drink with your child when they go work out with the team?

Do you feel guilty about it? Is it the dire sugar warnings that leave you with a guilty conscience? Most sports drinks have a small amount of vitamins, electrolytes and sugar. They do not provide any edge to their performance. Yes, water is really the best fluid for them. But should you ban sports drinks? Are they harmful?

If you have a child/young adult who is an athlete putting in more than12 hours per week at their sport, then you can stop worrying, and here's why:

A 12 oz bottle of sports drink is 80 calories.

It's equivalent to eating a cookie. Let's be clear that these drinks are treats, not intelligent fluid replacement. And like a cookie, one 12 oz bottle is not going to hurt every now and then. Sports drinks do not come close to the benefits of simple water. Let's just put our guilt on hold and think about this from another perspective. Do you workout for 30 minutes daily? Think about these numbers!

  • 3 miles on a treadmill at 9 min/mile = 475 calories burned

  • That's 27 minutes of sustained cardio exertion

  • For YOUR KID: 12 hrs/wk = 105 min/day

  • Okay, so they are probably not intense for the entire 105 minutes, so let's be fair and cut that actual cardio stress estimate to 54 minutes

  • That's 2 x my treadmill work out, which translates to..

  • 950 calories per day JUST to exercise

Remember that a 12 oz bottle of sports drink is 80 calories. It is not worth the battle. They can HAVE the extra sugar. No, it is not a great choice, but it is also not like they are downing a 250 calorie can of pop. Kids need boundaries, but a strict ban on a food item will only increase it's influence on them. So relax a little and set your mind to making the remaining 800+ calories count! And make sure you are sending a 32oz bottle of water with them as well.


  • Vegetable juice 50 calories, high in vitamins and minerals

  • Apple 50 calories, high in vitamin C

  • Baby carrots 50 calories, high in vitamin A

  • Banana 75 calories, high in potassium

  • Cantaloupe 100 calories, high in vitamin C

  • Granola bar 200 calories, high in fiber, B vitamins and complex carbs

  • Smoothie 150 calories, high in fiber, antioxidants, calcium, protein

TIME COMMITMENT: 10 minutes to make the veggie juice, or the smoothie.

The rest you can find in pre-packaged form. Sometimes I send extra fruit so my young athlete can share. This opens social doors for them as well and fosters a team that supports each other.

Until next time,

Be Kind to Yourself!



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