In today’s world, we see many athletes using energy drinks instead of water for rehydration. Because of their good taste and sponsorship by professional athletes, these drinks have become immensely popular. Sports drinks have become a very large industry spawning a multitude of companies that ensure that their drink is the best. But the question is, how useful actually are these energy drinks?
In our research, we looked at one of the most popular brands of sports drinks: Gatorade. Every year, consumers buy an estimated 2 billion dollars’ worth of Gatorade. When we get to the nitty gritty, all we care about is whether or not the drink will keep us hydrated.
As we exercise, we begin to lose water. The rate at which this happens usually depends on the intensity of our exercise, the temperature outside, and other minor factors. This loss of water usually occurs because of sweat and breathing (we exhale water vapor due to cell respiration). Because of this, we become dehydrated. Some of the symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, headaches, and dizziness among other things. On the cellular level, dehydration causes a loss of water between cells and therefore an increase in the concentration of other substances like salts and sugars. When this happens, a process called osmosis occurs where water from surrounding areas is drawn out in order to make the concentrations even. This throws off the balance of water in the cells and interferes with respiration.
To fix this, one would first think to drink some water, but this could be a problem too. If someone drinks too much water, they can offset the concentration of salts, this time causing a condition call water intoxication. This also messes up the cell’s function and, in some cases, can be fatal.
Sports drinks, like Gatorade, provide a balance between the two. They contain both electrolytes (salts) and sugars in specific concentrations in order to maintain safe levels of both in the body while performing vigorous exercises. This allows the cells to perform osmosis safely. The sugar also provides the athletes with much needed energy.
So all in all, sports drinks are the superior choice for hydration when working up a sweat. They can do more than water and help you out in that time of need when you require that extra boost. But because it is meant for when you are working out, it is not recommended for use when you are not. The high sugar and salt levels are not the healthiest when you are not losing any bodily fluids, but other than that it is a good choice.