Whether it’s Gatorade®, Powerade®, VitaminWater®, 5-Hour
Energy®, Red Bull®, Monster® or Fuze Beverage®, Sports and
Energy Drinks form a multibillion-dollar energy-drink industry. Hugely
popular, especially among young adults, these flavored beverages
come in various forms from carbonated fruit drinks enriched with
vitamins to vitamin enhanced water to blends of water, electrolytes
and carbohydrates. And yet, a simple Google search reveals that
the experts take issue with health claims that accompany many of
these beverages. In fact, court cases have been associated with
some brands. To help separate the marketing spin from reality, Halal
Consumer spoke with nutritional experts, Zaira Ahmad and Sarene
Alsharif (
).
“First, let’s start with the differ-
ence between Sports Drinks such
as Gatorade and Powerade and
Energy Drinks like 5-Hour Energy
and Red Bull. The main difference
is caffeine.  In general, Sports
Drinks contain carbohydrates
and electrolytes while some also
include vitamins, minerals and
amino acids,” says Sarene Alsharif,
a nutritionist, public health educa-
tor and consultant with a Master’s
degree in Public Health. “Energy
Drinks, on the other hand, have
caffeine in extremely high amounts
and can contain any mixture of car-
bohydrates, amino acids, vitamins
and minerals.”
“Sports Drinks are meant for high
intensity workouts lasting over an
hour long (and are intended) to
replace fluids and electrolytes lost
in prolonged sweating and energy
expenditure. They typically do not
contain caffeine,” adds Zaira Ahmad, a Registered Dietitian with
a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science, who works as a
Clinical Dietitian in Somerville, New Jersey.
Sports Drinks vs Water
“Marketers know that flavors sell,” says Naperville resident,
Shahana Khan, mother to three sports aficionados ages 11 to
15. Not only is she well acquainted with what appeals to young
people, but with her sons in basketball, football, baseball, swim-
ming and gymnastics, Mrs. Khan also knows what athletes need.
Drinks like Gatorade are meant to balance electrolytes that are
lost when the body is sweating profusely, she says. Rather than
opting for the calories and sugars that come with Sports Drinks,
her sons prefer coconut water to get the electrolytes they need.
They bottle it with ice to keep it from spoiling when in the hot sun,
once the original packaging has been opened.
As for vitamin waters such as VitaminWater or Fuze Beverage that
tout a slew of vitamins, again, Shahana Khan’s family chooses
to skip the calories that come with those flavors. “Take a multi-
vitamin with water before you head out to exercise, practice or a
game,” is her advice.
“Drinks that began as Sports
Drinks to replenish depleted ath-
letes, are consumed today by
people whose bodies are already
overwrought by calories and chemi-
cals,” says Linda Gardner, a mother
of two children under age ten. Her
family’s replenishments of choice:
water, sparkling water, coconut
water, water kefir, kombucha, and
cool herbal teas.
“Younger folk are prone to choos-
ing Sports Drinks to accompany
a meal thinking it is a "healthier"
choice than soda and sugary drinks.
I like to tell people that if they aren't
running a marathon while eating
their lunch, there's really no need
for a Sports Drink. In reality, Sports
Drinks tend to be high in sugar
since they are meant to restore
energy in an athlete,” says Zaira
Ahmad. Despite how frequently we
see Sports Drinks at sports train-
ings and gyms, “for low or moderate
30-60 minute exercising, water during the workout and a light
snack following it suffice.”
Besides there being no evidence of benefits associated with the
consumption of Sports Drinks when engaging in average amounts
of physical activity, Sarene Alsharif says that research is sketchy
even when it comes to supporting the consumption of Sports
Drinks by elite athletes. “The best way to remain hydrated is to
drink water before, during, and after physical activity. If you are
thirsty, go get a drink of water.”
The average Energy Drink is highly caffein-
ated, larger than one serving size, high in
sugar, and costly. Energy Drinks tend to be
packaged in cans and may have up to 3
servings in them, depending on the brand. In
reality, since it is a single can, a person will
drink the entire three servings in one sitting.
Summer 2013
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