With everyone eyeing a healthier 2019, many patients are reevaluating how they can not only revamp their exercise routine, but also their diet. However, some diet substitutions appear to be healthier on the surface, but could still be loaded with sugar that is detrimental to your waistline—as well as your teeth.
With exercise routines on the rise, many may be tempted to reach for a sports drink to replenish what they burned off through their workout. However, are the brightly colored, electrolyte-filled drinks healthy or even necessary after your average workout? And could they actually be sabotaging your diet goals or damaging your teeth?
How much should I drink?
Hydration is essential, whether you’re having a relaxing day or hitting the gym hard. A good guideline to use when preparing for a workout—whether it’s walking, running, biking, or tennis—is to drink about two cups of fluid two hours before each activity. And throughout the activity, aim to drink 4-6 ounces every 20 minutes to keep your muscles well-hydrated and prevent cramping. Finally, at the end of a workout, drink at least 20 more ounces. Experts agree that for most exercisers water is the liquid to replenish what was lost through sweating. However, with advertisements for electrolyte- infused drinks and special sports waters infused with vitamins and minerals, it can be confusing to determine what’s really best.
Do I need a sports drink?
For the average person who exercises an hour or so a day, the answer is no. The purpose of sports drinks is to quickly replace sugars and electrolytes that are expended in a very intense workout. If you are running in the Arlington, Texas heat in the middle of July and find your shirt completely soaked, this would be a good time to reach for a sports drink since excess sweat and exertion can alter mineral and salt levels in your blood. In addition, if you notice a white residue on your skin after a prolonged time spent sweating, that means you’re losing sodium. This is another sign that you could benefit from a sports drink. And to be sure you know what’s going on in your body, muscle cramps, dizziness, and headaches could be other symptoms of dehydration to watch for, and sports drinks could help your body recover quickly. However, most people don’t work out on a normal basis to these extreme levels.
Sports drinks downsides
The vast market of people who turn to sports drinks aren’t professional athletes or completing a truly strenuous workout. Let’s start with the basics: standard sports drink contains 36 grams of sugar. And while that’s less than a soda, it isn’t healthy to be consuming that much sugar without leading to weight gain. Some researchers have linked increases in childhood obesity to the rise and availability of sports drinks. And in addition to the excess sugar in the drinks, the added sodium can lead to higher blood pressure over time.
Do sports drinks harm your teeth?
Excess sugar from sports drinks starts by getting lodged in the cracks of your teeth and gum line. If left unaddressed, it will cause periodontal diseases like cavities and gum decay. In addition, acids from sports drinks can wear away enamel and increase the likelihood of bacteria invading your teeth. If you choose to drink a sports drink, it’s important to remember to brush your teeth or alternate drinking water-sports drink-water to help remove the sugar before it causes dental damage.
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Also published on Medium.