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Pros and Cons of Sport Drinks

author image Antonius Ortega
Antonius Ortega is a 13-year veteran of the fitness industry and an athletic trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. His articles on fitness, health and travel have appeared in newspapers such as the "The Hornet," "The Daily Bruin," and "Stars and Stripes." Ortega trains in Orange County.
Pros and Cons of Sport Drinks
A young woman drinking a sports drink after exercising in the park. Photo Credit Minerva Studio/iStock/Getty Images

Sports drinks can offer a bit more in terms of energy replacement when you exercise. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, and Iowa State University, during exercise you should replace fluids every 15 minutes to avoid dehydration. With so many choices of sports drinks on the market, you need to understand the benefits and negative effects of sports drinks.

Pro: Electrolyte Replacement

When you exercise, your body becomes depleted in nutrients like potassium and magnesium -- both of which help prevent muscle cramping and weakness. If you get low on electrolytes, you increase your risk of injury. Most sports drinks come packed full of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes to keep you replenished. This is one major advantage they have over water.

Pro: Taste

One of the best advantages a sports drink can offer is taste. While you may not grudgingly drink plenty of water during exercise, you won’t get as much pleasure from plain water as you will from a drink with flavor. A delicious sports drink will make it more likely that you'll consume it more often, helping you prevent dehydration.

Con: Tooth Decay

Unfortunately, with all the sugars many sports drinks contain, you’re more likely to experience mild to moderate tooth decay over long-term use. According to a study in the November 2007 issue of "The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice," sports drinks can cause more tooth decay than sodas because of their high sugar content and added artificial flavoring and coloring.

Con: Weight Gain

Sports drinks can work to replenish fluids and electrolytes when you exercise regularly or for long periods at a time. On the other hand, if you drink sports drinks casually or hardly exercise while you drink them, you could be setting yourself up for some unwanted weight gain. Most sports drinks contain the same -- or higher -- amount of sugar as sodas, making them high in carbohydrates. Taking in too many carbohydrates at once can cause insulin spikes in your blood, leading to fat storage. Sports drinks are recommended only for those who are very active. If you are not as active, a better alternative is to drink water with fresh orange or lemon juice squeezed in for flavor. If you experience a period of nausea and vomiting from illness, MedlinePlus.com recommends you sip on sports drinks to replace minerals and fluids lost during illness.

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