sports drinks

How to Pick a Healthy Sports Drink

by JJ Virgin on July 6, 2016

You grab your gym bag and a bottle of Gatorade and head out the door feeling prepared. According to all the ads, sports drinks are key to refueling after your workout. And be honest – who hasn’t secretly channeled their favorite celebrity athlete as they guzzle down a Powerade?

Time to drink up

The commercials do have one thing right: hydration and nutrients are crucial after exercise. Unfortunately, most sports drinks are little more than Kool-Aid for grown-ups. Neon blue and syrupy sweet is never the way to go to get the protein and complex carbs needed for muscle repair!

In fact, flooding your system with simple sugars after a workout is a surefire way to hang on to your fat stores. (Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?) During vigorous exercise, your muscles burn glucose for energy, which is an important step in burning fat later. However, it can also cause your body to crave sugar, which is why ultra-sweet sports drinks start to look appealing.

Here’s the problem…

Even the most strenuous, extended workout only calls for around 15 grams of complex carbohydrates afterward. In comparison, a 20-ounce bottle of regular Gatorade contains about 45 grams of carbs, over 90% of which are sugars.

That’s a massive burst of glucose, guaranteed to crash your system and leave you feeling exhausted and starving. It also gives your body something quick and easy to use for energy, meaning you keep your belly fat and burn that Gatorade instead.

You can do better

So what are your options? To stay energized while you work out, nature’s original hydrator is still one of the best – instead of sports drinks, grab some water! If you prefer your H2O with a little flavor, try adding one or more of these yummy (preferably organic) ingredients to your water bottle before you exercise:

  • Lemon or lime slices
  • Wedges of fresh grapefruit or orange*
  • Handful of berries*
  • Thinly sliced peach or nectarine*
  • Cantaloupe chunks*
  • Chopped fresh mint, basil, or lemon verbena
  • Guava or star fruit slices*
  • Cucumber rounds

There’s endless flavor combos to be had, and they all provide the hydration you require without any chemical-laced sugar bombs! (Try these 10 infused water recipes…)

After exercise, the ultimate multitasker is a protein shake made with fruit* and high-quality protein powder. Protein shakes help you get the most out of your workout long after you put down the weights and hit the shower. You won’t find a better option to provide the hydration and nutrition you need to build muscle, burn fat, and feel full for hours. Pro athletes might get paid to hold a bottle of Powerade at press conferences, but you can bet they’re actually choosing protein shakes after practice and games!

When you’re picking a protein powder for your shake, it’s important to avoid whey, dairy, soy, sweeteners, or other additives likely to trigger food sensitivities. Those ingredients can cause inflammation and cravings that signal your body to retain fat, as well as potentially causing gas, bloating, joint pain, headaches, or fatigue – not how you want to reward your body after a hard workout!

If you’re looking for yummy, healthy protein shake and smoothie recipes, I’ve got some great ones for you! You can download a free Shake Guide here, with 47 delicious, healthy shake recipes, plus a $10 gift card good for your choice of All-In-One protein shake mix.

So the key to healthy hydration? Drink water during your workout, a protein shake afterwards, and give the sugary sports drinks a pass! Now you’re one step closer to making the most of your exercise time.

*unless on Cycle 2 of the Sugar Impact Diet