Home > Nutrition Gear

Sports drinks usually not necessary

Sports drinks are not useful for most Canadians.

Olympic medallists Simon Whitfield and Clara Hughes have teamed up with CBC Marketplace to put sports products to the test. They tested the performance benefits of different products to see if they’re actually valuable to consumers. Sports drinks didn’t make the cut.

The sports drink industry in Canada does over $450 million in sales.

The Marketplace investigation found that most Canadians don’t lose enough electrolytes to warrant replenishing with a sports drink, such as Gatorade. For the body to deplete enough electrolytes so that it needs to quickly replenish one would need to follow an intense workout for nearly an hour. The program had recreational runners do blood tests and then run for 45 minutes. They then did another blood test after the run. The verdict? The runners didn’t deplete enough sodium or potassium to need a replenishment beverage. The average workout does not require a sports drink to recover.

“Sports drinks are fantastic for keeping electrolytes levels well, rehydrating you and giving you sugar that you need to exercise,” Greg Wells, who is a human physiology researchers at the University of Toronto, told CBC. “But the average person, in a gym, typical spin class, yoga class, going to lift some weights, you need water.”

Children should also not be drinking as many sports drinks as adults. They sweat less and need less electrolytes to keep active.

This all comes on the heels of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency stripping popular British sport drink Lucozade from the shelves of retailers in Canada for being enriched with vitamins and minerals. Lucozade has also been taking flak from Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority for claiming in recent commercials to hydrate better than water. The commercials have been banned.

The Marketplace episode will air on CBC Friday, Jan. 31, at 8:00 p.m. EST.