CHILDREN AND SPORTS DRINKS- When and what to drink properly to HYDRATE

CHILDREN AND SPORTS DRINKS- When and what to drink properly to HYDRATE

We all know how important hydration is, especially for our athletes. The amount and type of hydration needed depends on several factors: age, weight, intensity and duration of activity, weather and climate.

For normal everyday activities most children only require water. Children should not be consuming sugar laden sports drinks when electrolyte repletion is not required. Have you ever looked on the label and read the ingredients on the back of these drinks? These drinks are LOADED with sugar, provide little or no nutrients, contain artificial dyes, and are too acidic for our bodies.

The Academy of Pediatrics recommends children drink water to hydrate during normal everyday activities and avoid sports drinks if not needed. If they aren’t burning off all of the calories found in these drinks, they will be stored as fat. Studies are showing an increase in child obesity related to these high sugar drinks.

The first study to independently assess the association of sports drinks with weight gain was called “Association of sports drinks with weight gain among adolescents and young adults”, Obesity, (Silver Spring), October 2014. The conclusion of this study showed that there was a positive association of sports drinks with weight gain among adolescents and young adults.

Among the girls, each serving per day of sports drink predicted an increase of 0.3 BMI units more than their peers over the next 2–3 years. Among the males, each serving of sports drinks predicted a 0.33 BMI increase. In addition, boys who increased their intake over the 2–3 year interval gained significantly more than their peers during the same time interval (Obesity, (Silver Spring, October 2014)).

In the CSPI report, “Food Dyes: A rainbow of risks”, 2010, sports drinks can cause an increase in hyperactivity in children and may be linked to cancer. High sugar drinks can also increase the risk of tooth decay and high blood pressure. You have to consider the benefits and risks of sports drinks and KNOW when to consume them.


A sports drink is appropriate if your child is participating in a vigorous activity lasting more than an hour, in extreme conditions, and/or where dehydration and electrolyte losses are more likely to occur (Schneider and Benjamin, 2011). If your child is playing all day in a soccer tournament and it is 90 degrees out, electrolyte repletion is an absolute, along with healthy snacks and meals.


I was recently introduced to a sports drink called Hydrate. My children either fill up their water jug with it or bring individual packs to practices and games. My daughter suffers from migraines so she requires plenty of hydration, especially during soccer tournaments. I don’t mind her drinking it daily because it replenishes vital fluids, electrolytes and nutrients lost during exercise and includes a blend of amino acids, carbohydrates and B vitamins. It also contains adaptangenic herbs which combat body stress. AND… drum role… it only contains 6 grams of sugar per serving instead of the 25-40 grams found in most sports drinks!

Gatorade contains 34 grams of sugar per 20 ounces and Powerade 21 grams of sugar per 12 ounces. The purpose of these drinks are to restore glycogen and provide immediate fuel during intense exercise, but do we need all of that sugar? NO! Only a small amount of simple carbohydrate is needed to help the body uptake amino acids efficiently. All of the sugar that is not utilized during exercise is stored as fat. Also, athletes are more likely to experience that “crash” when they consume a lot of sugar at once- their blood sugars rise and then come down too quickly resulting in headache and fatigue.

IN CONCLUSION, it is important for us to educate our children on reading labels and ingredient lists. You and your child should know what they are putting into their body and make sure they are choosing the proper form of hydration. If they are physically active, choose a sports drink that will replenish electrolytes without all of the added sugar. For normal everyday activities, your child should be drinking water throughout the day- carrying a water bottle around makes it easier.  For younger children, have them pick out a water bottle that they can decorate with stickers!  Make water fun!  See the supplement facts label below for Hydrate. You will see what I am talking about!