If you work out regularly, you are probably making other healthy choices too. Consuming an energy drink to replace electrolytes may be one of them. In fact, if you glance around a gym full of active, sweaty people, the landscape will likely be dotted with plastic bottles half full of the brightly colored sports drinks within.
Now imagine the following scenario: You are hitting the gym. After an especially hard workout you reach into your gym back and grab your favorite post-workout snack: five Krispy Kreme donuts.
Not only is there as much sugar in one 32 ounce sports drink as five glazed donuts, there are also artificial colors, emulsifiers, and other additives that you certainly don’t need to put back into your body after you sweat.
How much sugar you need after a workout depends on a lot of factors.
Most experts agree that if you are working out for less than an hour, all your body needs is good old fashioned water. It makes evolutionary sense, too – our ancestors were a lot more active than we were, and they didn’t carry around packets of goo or sugary gummy snacks to keep them fueled every 45 minutes. Yes, it is important to replenish nutrients after you workout, but the replenishing can wait until your next meal.
And before all of you triathletes or bodybuilders get your gym shorts in a knot, if you are exercising multiple times a day or for long periods of time at a high level, yes, your body may need some replenishment on the spot (anyone who has ever “bonked” knows what we’re talking about, and it is real). In that case, replenish your body as you see fit. We aren’t talking to you!
But if you are doing a quick 45 minute workout during your lunch break, going on a light jog, if you’re a kid at soccer practice, and especially if you are just sitting around, think twice before you reach for a sugary sports drink. Need more convincing? Take a look at our founder’s TED talk on why Gatorade is the New Cigarette.
What to do instead?
Drink water whenever you feel thirsty. Eat whole foods when you feel hungry. Yogurt, nuts, fruit, cheese, literally anything that grew from the earth, these are all good options for post-workout snacks.
If you enjoy having a sweet drink, here are some new and improved tips:
Easiest: keep buying the sports drink you love, but water it down for more hydration and less sugar.
Still easy: cut the chemicals by starting with a big glass of water and adding a splash of 100% fruit juice. Add a pinch of salt for electrolytes.
Next Level: make your own lemon-lime sports drink (that is actually made from lemons and limes). Sound food hack – make a big batch and freeze the extra in plastic bottles so that you can grab and go later on.