Would you bring soda to drink at the gym? Probably not, but depending on the beverage you’re choosing instead, you might be drinking something very similar.

We know that soda is high in sugar, sodium, calories and carbs, but your sports drink might actually have very similar quantities. A leading brand sports drink will offer 140 calories, 12% of the daily value of sodium, 15% of the daily value of carbs, and 142% daily value of sugar. Yep, you read that right.

The same amount of leading brand soda is only 100 calories, and the same amount of sugar. They both also have harmful additives, such as artificial coloring, genetically modified dextrose, and chemically produced citric acid.

Unnecessarily consuming sports drinks while exercising may be inhibiting your weight loss attempts, despite their rising popularity and availability for purchase at gyms. Americans who belong to a gym has increased by 10% in recent years, but the average weight has also increased by 5%. Lightly exercising for an hour may burn double the calories of a sports drink, but you then drink back half of what you’ve worked off.

Yes, some people need the nutrients in sports drinks for performance. However, this is only true for athletes exercising continuously and intensely for well over an hour, who will need to replace potassium and sodium. Most work-outs for non-training or non-professional athletes can achieve optimal results through water alone, especially if your goal is to lose weight. So next spin class, you can skip the sugary sports drink, and chances are that your child probably doesn’t not need a sports drink for their soccer practice.

Not a fan of water? There are other ideas. If you are looking to drink something other than water after a workout, there are some other drinks that are healthier, and more substantial than water. Believe it or not, chocolate milk is a good alternative, because it has a 3 to 1 carb to protein ratio. However, this drink can also be very high in sugar, so be sure to check the label, or even make your own.

Orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D will provide you with electrolytes and a high concentration of antioxidants, but again, be sure to check the sugar content. One creative replacement is watermelon water – which is great for electrolyte replacement, since it offers 6x the amount that’s in a standard sports drink! Coconut water purchased at the store will also offer potassium, natural sugar, and water. Finally, you can also make your own sports drink at home with coconut water, honey, sea salt, and lemon juice, or just make flavored water by adding mint and berries overnight.

What’s your favorite sports drink alternative?

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