Make sure your sports drink is hydrating you

83657_optMost people are blissfully unaware of the high levels of sugar they are consuming in sports drinks. Paying closer attention to labels reveals that many branded sports drinks contain four times the amount of sugar that is required for effective rehydration. High levels of sugar in the diet can contribute to a variety of health conditions.

Any person who exercises on a regular basis is susceptible to the effects of even mild fluid and electrolyte loss through sweat. Dehydration occurs when the body loses water and electrolytes faster than they are being replaced.

Common signs of dehydration related to exercise include:

• Dry mouth

• Increased thirst

• Lack of concentration

• Muscle cramps

• Fatigue

To allow the body to perform at an optimal level it is important to maintain a healthy fluid balance at all times.

According to senior pharmacist Colleen Brady, “It can often be confusing selecting the right product to replace fluids and the electrolytes lost through sweat during physical activity. It is critical to select a hydration product that doesn’t interfere with performance or hinder weight loss goals.”

So just how much sugar are we consuming in sports drinks?

Brady explains: “The typical sports drink contains between 6 to 8% sugar, so for an active Canadian exercising 3 times a week, drinking a 600 ml sports drink per session is equivalent to around 18 pieces of chocolate, or up to 570 calories. If you wouldn’t eat it, why drink it?”

Instead, look for oral rehydration solutions. When compared to standard sports drinks, oral rehydration solutions like Hydralyte, contain approximately one quarter of the sugar and four times the electrolytes.

In other words, sugar-free sports drinks will not provide effective rehydration, Brady points out. “The optimum sugar in a rehydration formula (2%) is critical for rapid rehydration, as this accelerates the absorption of both fluid and electrolytes. Hydralyte, in particular, complies with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and contains the correct balance of sugar (2%) and electrolytes for both rapid and effective rehydration. It is sold at leading pharmacies in Canada.”

More information is available online at

Source: World Health Organization. Oral rehydration salts.

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