Sports drinks: Good for the professionals, but are they good for us?

Olympic athletes and professional sportspeople rely on them, but for the rest of us are sports drinks really the gold standard of post-exercise rehydration – or is plain water just as good?

Even with all eyes on the red, white and blue, you cannot help but notice that members of Team GB are accessorising their official kit with drink bottles in equally striking colours.

Isotonic sports drinks such as Powerade contain a combination of fluids, carbohydrates and minerals that help world-class athletes rehydrate, refuel and replace essential nutrients lost through intensive training and sweating.



These days it seems impossible to enter a gym without passing a vending machine full of such drinks. But while it is easy to be lured by the promise of enhanced performance, some experts are sceptical about the benefits of sports drinks.

"The average person in the UK who doesn’t exercise regularly really doesn’t need a sports drink," says nutritionist Ian Marber.

"While it’s essential that they keep hydrated to stay healthy, this doesn’t require any more than a wellbalanced diet and good old tap water."

Weighty issue

If the key reason you work out is to lose weight, reaching for a sports drink could make it harder to reach your goal.

"Most are formulated with glucose sugar to replace energy," says Ian.

"It will not undo your good work, as you have still worked your heart and lungs and muscles. But drinking a large bottle of energy or sports drink could easily replace all of the calories that you have burnt off."

Water or calorie-free sports drinks such as Powerade Zero are a wiser option.

You can put your personal nutrition questions to Ian Marber on Twitter @ianmarber, or visit

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