What chemicals are in sports drinks and their risks

Sports drinks are popular among athletes because, in addition to hydrating, they provide nutrients that are lost due to the physical wear and tear caused by training sessions and competition.

Other attractive characteristics in sports drinks are the taste and color, in addition to its attractive presentation. Reasons why they are usually consumed by many people, even without exercising or playing sports.

Why is it important to stay hydrated when exercising or playing sports?

In high-performance activities, a lot of fluid is lost through sweating, just as caloric expenditure is greater. That’s why sports drinks are formulated to replenish rapidly lost electrolytes and glucose.

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What do sports drinks contain?

Sports drinks are mainly composed of:


-Sugars (carbohydrates) or sweeteners.

– Electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium).

-Color additives or dyes.

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-Flavor additives or flavorings.

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Types of sports drinks

There are 3 different varieties of sports drinks based on their concentration.

– Hypertonic

They are those drinks that have a higher concentration of sugar and salt compared to the body. They are usually used at the end of training to get more carbohydrates.

– Hypotonic

They are those drinks that have a lower concentration of sugar and salt compared to the body. At the same time, they quickly replace the liquids that have been lost, ideal to avoid a high consumption of carbohydrates.

– Isotonic

They are drinks that contain both concentrations of sugar and salt in balance compared to the body. It quickly replenishes fluids as well as provides needed energy through carbohydrates.

Possible adverse effects of regular consumption of sports drinks

The ingredients used in sports drinks by themselves are considered safe since they are approved and regulated based on the guidelines of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

One of the possible drawbacks of regularly consuming sports drinks can result in increased intake of:

– Sugars or simple carbohydrates.

It is recommended that the sports drink contain less than 30 g of sugars per 24 oz of drink.

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Sodium content is recommended to be no more than 450 mg per 24 oz of sports drink.


Less than 225 mg of potassium per 24 oz. of sports drink is recommended.

An adequate intake of sodium and potassium is necessary for heart health.

Given the wide variety of sports drinks available, it is advisable to check the nutritional content on the product label, as well as the list of ingredients to choose the most suitable for you and avoid those that contain many chemicals.

At the same time, evaluate if the activity requires their consumption, since ideally they should be consumed after having carried out about 1 hour of demanding physical activity and it is not always necessary, it is enough to hydrate with water.

If you have doubts regarding the consumption and frequency of ingesting sports drinks, ask your coach or sports doctor.

Source: Mayo Clinic, American Chemical Society, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, USADA.

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