Photo by Kara Allyson

In July, the British Journal of Medicine came out with a report questioning much of the marketing hype behind sports drinks. Maybe “questioning” is too soft a word. To sum it up, the report argues that there’s very little science to back up the claims made manufactures about the hydration benefits of sports drinks.

“An investigation by the BMJ has found that companies have sponsored scientists, who have gone on to develop a whole area of science dedicated to hydration,” the journal wrote. “These same scientists advise influential sports medicine organisations, which have developed guidelines that have filtered down to everyday health advice.”

The take home messages:

  • The idea that you need to pre-hydrate before exercise is a lot of hype — thirst may be the best indicator of when to drink
  • Research supporting the effectiveness of sports drinks is weak at best, and probably biased by industry involvement
  • Drinking too much fluid, whether water or sports drinks, can result in hyponatraemia, a potentially deadly condition in the body lacks sodium
  • Most people don’t need sports drinks and, by they way, they contain sugar and can contribute to obesity

So…maybe we can all save some dough and just drink water?

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