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Are sports drinks the best way to hydrate?

When it's this hot, it's important to drink lots of fluids. But lots of people may wonder if sports drinks are the best way to hydrate? Like, better than water?

When it's this hot, it's important to drink lots of fluids. But lots of people may wonder if sports drinks are the best way to hydrate? Like, better than water?

For answers, I'm looking at recommendations from sport and health organizations. And talking to Meridan Zerner, a registered dietician at Cooper Aerobics Health and Wellness in Dallas.

“Are sports drinks the best way to hydrate?” I ask her. “Sports drinks are not the best way to hydrate,” Zerner says. Not the best, there's your headline. But there is definitely a place for sports drinks.

The American College of Sports Medicine says, "During exercise, consuming beverages containing electrolytes and carbohydrates can provide benefits over water alone under certain circumstances."

So, what are those circumstances?

The National Federation of State High School Associations and the UIL, which governs high school sports in Texas, and says those circumstances are during…

  • Prolonged continuous or intermittent activity of greater than 60 minutes
  • Multiple, same-day bouts of intense, continuous or repeated exertion
  • Warm-to-hot and humid conditions

“It sounds like you’re saying sports drinks are for sports?” I ask Zerner. “Sports drinks are for sports. And for sports that last a long time. With heavy equipment and intense heat,” she says.

And if that's not how you roll, then water is the way.

The UIL says for most athletes, "water is appropriate and sufficient for prehydration and rehydration. Water is quickly absorbed, well-tolerated, an excellent thirst quencher and cost-effective."

The American Heart Association recommends water and warns against all the sugar in sports drink. “So, in your basic 16-ounce sports drink you're going to get the equivalent of 9 cubes of sugar,” Zerner says.

“That's a ton. In a 16 oz drink,” I say. So, are sports drinks the best way to hydrate? The answer, for most of us, no. Drink water and plenty of it.

Got something you want verified, send me an email at david@verifytv.com