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Why Saying NO To Sports Drinks Leads To Weight Loss

By on March 30, 2016

Ever since the 1960s, when the Florida Gators football team invented Gatorade, sports drinks have become increasingly popular.

Sports drinks are now a $1.5 billion industry and many people believe that no workout is complete without a bottle of energy-boosting sports drink.

Sports drinks are heavily marketed, promoted as being healthy, and as being all-but essential for exercise and sporting success.

But is that really the case? Probably not.

I believe they are not just unnecessary; they might actually be holding you back.

Sports drinks reduce your calorie deficit

With well over 50-percent of the population overweight or obese, a very large proportion of exercisers are working out to lose weight. Weight loss requires a reduction in food intake and an increase in physical activity; eat less, move more. This creates an energy deficit and your body will have to use fat to make up the shortfall.


A typical sports drink contains around 6 to 10 grams of carbohydrate per 100 ml. That means standard bottle will provide anywhere between 72 to 120 or more calories. Some sports drinks, especially those classed as hypertonic, contain even more carbs and therefore more calories.

Assuming your workout uses 300 calories, if you use a sports drink while you exercise, you will be putting calories into your body only slightly slower than you are using them! It’s no wonder than so many of the people I see exercising and drinking sports drinks end up with very little weight loss to show for their efforts.

If you are exercising for weight loss, the last thing you want to do is take on calories during your workout. This pretty much slashes the fat burning effect benefit of your workout.

2.) Sugar and insulin

Despite listing its ingredients as fructose, glucose, or maltose, sports drinks are essentially sugary water. Sugar provides quick energy but also triggers the release of the hormone insulin. Insulin drives the sugar into your muscles and liver where it can be used for energy but, at the same time, blunts your ability to burn fat.


The presence of insulin signals to your body that there is another source of energy that needs to be used instead. This creates a competition for fuel. In short, if you have an abundance of sugar in your body and insulin levels are elevated, your body will not be able to burn fat as effectively.

 Sports drinks and health

Sports drinks are often marketed as being very healthy. Images of lean, fit, people running on the beach or slam-dunking basketballs are pretty standard advertising ploys. It would be easy to think that sports drinks are nothing less than the fountain of health and youth!

However, if you take a moment to read the ingredients label of any sports drink, you might be surprised to find that they really aren’t that different to soda. In fact, many sports drinks are made by the same companies that make soda.


You don’t even have to go to the bother of reading the labels; just look at the color of most sports drinks. Those bright colors are not the product of nature and indicate the presence of artificial additives, many of which are proven to be bad for your health.

Sugar, in almost any form, is unhealthy when consumed in excess. That’s one of the reasons that I encourage my juicing students to go easy on the fruit and heavy on the vegetables. Sugar is arguably the unhealthiest of all nutrients and is responsible for too many serious diseases to list.

Exercise is not just about weight loss, it’s also about health.  Drinking a sports drink while you work out is not that much different to chugging a sugary soda or eating candy. Tell me; does that sound healthy to you?


 Are sports drinks ever beneficial?

If you are an endurance athlete doing high volume workouts, maybe you’re training for a marathon, a sports drink can maintain your energy levels so you can keep on running. In sports like soccer, where a match can last 90-minutes or more, a sports drink can also be beneficial.

Long workouts deplete glycogen stores – the carb supplies within your muscles. Replacing glycogen will prevent fatigue. A sports drink is essentially food in liquid form and also contains minerals called electrolytes that are essential for proper muscle function and to ward off cramps.

However, if you are exercising for fat loss, or your workout is 60-minutes or less, you really don’t need a sports drink and, for all the reasons above, doing so might do you more harm than good.

Water is what you need

For most exercisers, water is all you need to stay hydrated. Your body contains more than enough glycogen and electrolytes to power you through your workouts. If you really feel you need a sports drink to give you energy, there is something important missing from your diet.

five water glasses being filled in descending order

Water is calorie-free and won’t impede fat burning. It’s natural and is exactly what you are sweating out. Drinking water while you exercise means you’ll be replacing like for like. If you are worried about electrolytes, a sprinkle of sea salt in your water will suffice.

Sports drinks might be marketed as essential but, in all but a few cases, this really isn’t true. Hydration is undoubtedly important but water is what you need. The next time you think about gulping down a sports drink, remember that it’s not really much better than a soda and common sense should tell you that drinking a coke while you work out is really not a good idea!

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About Lionel Correia

Lionel is a fitness enthusiast, juicing advocate, and serial entrepreneur. He loves real estate, but is even more passionate about health, wellness and a positive mindset. He’s a graduate of the University of Arizona and prides himself on establishing great habits because great habits lead to great results. His favorite workouts include, yoga, spin class, sprints on the track and resistance training. He believes that if you desire a strong healthy body, you must first build mental toughness because a healthy body requires a disciplined mind and great habits.

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