Natural or not, who needs Gatorade?
The bottle of G-series Gatorade sitting on my desk says the drink's a "natural thirst quencher." It also says it's "For Athletes. For Performance."
I'm not here to bash Gatorade. But I am here to say that many people who drink it really don't need it. In short, if you're a performance athlete, yeah, some Gatorade might help keep you hydrated and healthy after a tough workout. But if all you need is to quench your thirst, other options abound.
Lona Sandon and Nancy Rodriguez, the nutrition experts I interviewed for this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column about vitamin-fortified beverages, had a few words to say about sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade, too. Here's the drill: People who exert themselves at sports or exercise in hot weather for more than an hour are likely to have sweat enough to need their electrolytes replenished; the sodium and potassium in Gatorade does that trick. Those people may also need to replenish carbohydrates; the sucrose (and, in some varieties, dextrose) in Gatorade can help with that.
For the rest of us, the dietitians agree, water does just as good a job at replacing the fluid we've lost through sweat.
If you're one of those hard-working, heavy-sweating athletes, you might want to consider chugging chocolate milk after your workout. Recent research shows that drinking low-fat chocolate milk helps replenish electrolytes, carbohydrates and fluid -- and that the protein it contains (something not found in sports drinks) helps repair and rebuild muscle. Of course, that research was supported by the National Dairy Council and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board. But Sandon and Rodriguez said it makes sense.
As for the new "natural" Gatorades, they're just the latest to irritate me by throwing around that term. The "natural" blackberry/raspberry variety includes neither of those fruits or their juices in the ingredient list; same deal for the "natural" orange/pomegranate kind. "Natural" is so vaguely defined by the FDA as to be meaningless at best and potentially deceptive at worst. I hope it's a marketing trend that soon will fade.
In the meantime, here's an article about how drinking pickle juice might counter workout cramping.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
June 29, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity
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