Reaching for a sports drink or electrolyte-enhanced water might seem like a better choice than a soda, but are they really any healthier? In this blog post, we’ll talk about what enhanced waters are and why they may actually be bad for your health.
Enhanced waters come in a variety of brands: Gatorade, Powerade, Vitaminwater, Smart Water, and more. They were designed for elite athletes to help replace electrolytes and carbs lost during intense exercise. The keyword here is elite. Researchers say the average person exercising for less than an hour may not need sports drinks to re-hydrate or improve their performance.
This is a big one. You may be surprised to learn most enhanced waters contain about the same amount of sugar as a can of soda. A typical can of soda contains about 40 grams of sugar, while a 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade, for example, has 36 grams of sugar. Vitaminwater isn’t much better. It contains 32 grams of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle.
Doctors say too much added sugar puts you at risk of several health issues including obesity, fatty liver disease, diabetes, and cancer. And if you think drinks labeled as “zero-calorie” are a safe bet, think again, doctors say those contain artificial sweeteners– which have been linked to cancer.
Vitamins like vitamin B and C are another component of enhanced waters, especially for Vitaminwater. Researchers say most people already get enough of these vitamins from their diet and consuming more will not provide you with any added health benefits.
Some enhanced waters contain vitamins A and E. Research has shown excess amounts of these have been associated with the risk of premature death.
Electrolytes are minerals that help regulate and control fluids in your body. They help keep your brain, nerves, and muscles functioning properly and they can be lost from perspiration, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some of the main electrolytes include magnesium, potassium, calcium, chloride, and sodium. Most if not all enhanced waters contain electrolytes, even SmartWater. And just like anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad. Doctors say having too much of a certain electrolyte can cause an electrolyte imbalance. Too much sodium, for example, can lead to dizziness. While too much calcium can lead to joint and bone pain, fatigue, and seizures.
So before reaching for enhanced water. Read the label to ensure what you are consuming. Just plain water is a safe bet. And if you need carbohydrate and electrolyte replacement, doctors recommend fresh fruits and vegetables as healthy alternatives.