Is Gatorade Bad for Your Kids?

Are sports drinks a nutritional replenishment or simply the new soda? Should you pump your kids full of Gatorade so they don’t dehydrate…or are you just providing empty calories? Gatorade was produced in response to a request by the University of Florida’s football coach who was looking for a way to keep his athletes from getting dehydrated. In the hot Florida sun, his athletes were dropping like flies. Gatorade, which tasted awful at the time and was expensive to produce, solved the problem.

In times of extreme dehydration, from intense activity, lengthy exposure to high temperatures or fluid deprivation, replenishment fluids are useful. But, as a daily beverage to have just because you are thirsty, there are some things you should keep in mind. The primary ingredients are sugar, more sugar, more sugar and salt. There are also a couple of electrolytes and some artificial flavoring. In 12 ounces — most bottles are bigger — there are 80 calories and 21 grams of sugar. To put that in perspective, this is the equivalent of over 5 tsp of sugar.

Bottom line, don’t be fooled into thinking electrolytes are healthy. If your child is participating in the kinds of activities that make them sweat profusely, Gatorade and other sports drinks might help them, but in general, simply staying hydrated with water or other thirst quenchers will do the trick. Getting them used to sports drinks is only going to provide empty calories and increase sugar addiction.

First published May 18, 2019

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness Coach. She helps clients with parenting issues, the challenges of college and young adulthood and issues related to health and habits. Email her at drkarenlatimer@gmail.com to learn more. She is the author of the Audible Original, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents.