Are “sports drinks” really just junk food? Should they be removed from vending machines in schools? “One analysis determined that kids who drink a 20-ounce Gatorade each day could gain 13 extra pounds over the course of a year.” A debate in congress rages on.[CalorieLab]


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  1. says:

    yup! it’s all sugar! nothings better than good old fashion water

  2. suburbancowboy says:

    I noticed recently, two new ingredients in many flavors of Gatorade, which prompted me to stop drinking it. Brominated Vegetable Oil, which is illegal in 100 countries “Long after human consumption of BVO, traces remain in the body fat.[citation needed] Bromine is a halogen and displaces iodine, which may depress thyroid function.” “n test animals, BVO consumption has caused damage to the heart and kidneys in addition to increasing fat deposits in these organs. In extreme cases BVO has caused testicular damage, stunted growth and produced lethargy and fatigue.”

    and Ester of Wood Rosin, which while not known to have any side effects, is just kinda gross.

  3. Falconfire says:

    Yes and no.

    They are not food for those of us who use them at the end of a workout (and I mean a WORK OUT not 20 minutes of light jogging on the treadmill) The carbs in these drinks help stave off your body from using its muscles as a energy supply, instead of sugar and fat.

    But for kids who spend most of their days lounging around, nope its just as bad if not worse than fruit juice. Even worse, most sports drinks now contain HFCS instead of sugar, the only way you can get the original formulas is to buy the powdered version of it.

  4. morganlh85 says:

    Of course they are junk food; you certainly don’t need extra electrolytes and energy to sit on your ass in a desk all day long. And they barely have gym class in schools any more so it sure can’t be for that!

  5. Dervish says:

    @Falconfire: As far as I’ve been able to find out, HFCS vs. sugar is six of one, half a dozen of another.

    The thing that irks me about these drinks is that they try to imply that they’re healthy when they’re really just another bottle of sugar (or HFCS) water.

    Like, say that you’ve got really bad cottonmouth for some UNEXPLAINABLE reason. Now say that you’re looking for a healthy alternative to soda (because you’re mindlessly taking in a few extra calories, for SOME reason) with more flavor than water. In these isolated cases, finishing an entire bottle is easy as peeing with a full bladder, and much less healthy.

    I know it’s the consumer’s responsibility to read nutrition info. I think I’m just angry at myself because I’m usually a careful label reader, but I got taken in for quite a while – and if I can get fooled, 12 year olds who don’t give a crap in the first place sure as heck can.

  6. jaredgood1 says:

    @Falconfire: Well said.

  7. ElizabethD says:

    Our teenaged son is perennially underweight. He plays hockey and needs to keep his weight up. He also does 3 heavy duty workouts per week at a sports training center (aerobics and weight training). In his case, Gatorade has been a blessing. It keeps him from losing too much weight. It’s something he will drink (not true of power shakes, alas) and is easy to store. When he is older and his metabolism screeches to a halt, like his ex-jock parents, he’ll have to give it up. But for now… I’m glad there is something that he will actually consume and prevents him from wasting away while being so very active!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Many people believe that anything invented by a doctor is good for you. Don’t let degrees and letters after names get in the way of common sense.

  9. enm4r says:

    I used to drink anywhere from a 3/4 to a gallon of gatorade a day. I got the powered mix extremely cheap, and seeing as how I’m constantly carrying around a water bottle, I enjoy drinking more than water. The hydration was mainly a factor of how much I was working out.

    I’ve since had to cut back due to some injuries, and I’ve cut the gatorade down substantially. Mostly water/soda now (blah blah health, it’s not a problem) and I can attest that the extra calories are a factor if you’re not making use of them. I can use the empty calories, but if you’re sitting on your ass, they’re going to add up. Parents definitely should be limiting intake, because it’s no better than soda/juice in many cases.

  10. meneye says:

    Gatorade is better than the other ones out there….*shudders thinking of capri sun*

    We should just go with Juicy Juice.

  11. enm4r says:

    @ElizabethD: That’s exactly my case, and has been so for years. Disappointing that I’ll have to take these couple months off, but one the training ramps back up, my gatorade consumption will follow. I realize it’s probably a minority, but there are some of us who drink it FOR the calories, not in spite of.

  12. rmz says:

    But it’s got electrolytes! It’s got what kids crave!

  13. a 20 ounce gatorade will gain me 13 pounds? I’m trying to gain weight… If I can get that in muscle, then thats not bad of an idea…

  14. LBSurfer says:

    @enm4r: Why not drink a combination of protein drinks/shakes and carb replenishment items (such as Gatorade). The number of calories are important, but so are where you are getting the calories from (protein, carbs, fats). If you’re looking to put on weight, you’re mostly likely aiming for muscle weight. Protein shakes will give you a better chance of that than sugar laden carb-replenishment drinks.

    If you are some kind of high-endurance athlete (marathoner, triathlete, etc), please disregard this message :)

  15. catskyfire says:

    I can see the argument for removing it. Certainly it’s not needed for most students most of the time. And they’ve shown that for after-workout time, milk, especially chocolate milk, is better overall.

    That said…well, there’s a reason I drink soda in the first place. (Diet, with extra chemicals, thank you very much.)

    Water may be good for you, but it has no flavor. It doesn’t cut through the gunk in my mouth. And there is no caffeine in water.

  16. liquisoft says:

    Sports drinks like Gatorade are all carbohydrates and sugars. They’re intended for people in the midst of a highly active sports game of some sort. The whole purpose to the drink is to allow one’s thirsty body to absorb the water more quickly and thus remain hydrated. Drinking it without any means of burning it off is absolutely stupid, and it should not be in a vending machine on a school campus aside from a possible location right next to the gym.

  17. enm4r says:

    @LBSurfer: You covered it in the disclaimer at the end. :)

    But you’re absolutely right, 90% of the time there’s an appropriate combination that could be reached that would enable people to gain/keep appropriate distributions of weight. And parents should also keep that in mind when thinking about how they’re purchasing for kids, even teens into high school. What’s appropriate for an athlete playing 3-4 varsity sports during the year will not be appropriate for the 8 year old who plays Little League because his dad wants to go to games.

    I don’t even know why vending machines are in schools, maybe I’m missing why preteens need to buy anything, what happened to water fountains?

  18. LucyInTheSky says:

    @morganlh85: yeah, its great for people who really sweat and actually lose a lot of electrolytes, but usually water is best. and doesn’t everyone know that it’s just sugar water? they actually have to tell us this? i wish common sense was a little more common.

  19. SaveMeJeebus says:

    @rmz: “Do you even know what an electrolyte is?” Don’t be such a Brawndo “The Thirst Mutilator” shill =)

  20. RokMartian says:

    I wonder why there are vending machines at all in schools.

    Schools usually don’t allow kids to use the vending machines during school hours. It is intended more for those before/after school for activities such as band and sports. Those kids are generally not the type to sit on their ass which the junk foods greatly affect.

    I was one of those kids and I could have drank as much soda and the sugars and carbs never would affect me — I was still skinny as a rail.

    What it does do, however, is set some snacking habits that will continue to adult hood – where you will start seeing the affects.

  21. SaraAB87 says:

    For those hooked on gatorade Propel water is a healthy alternative, it has 10 calories per serving vs gatorde’s like.. 50 to 90 calories, plus its flavored.

    Gatorade can also make you sick if you drink too much of it and are not active, I usually only drink gatorade when I am really active and sweating a lot, if your not sweating, than don’t drink gatorade. Although recently I have switched to propel. Note I only drink this stuff very occasionaly, not on a daily basis.

    Gatorade is not appropriate for a school lunch for a kid who has done nothing but sit in a classroom all day, and for after gym classes water is sufficient, this drink is as bad as regular soda and sugary fruit juices for kids who are not active. Those extra calories add up on children a lot faster than they do on adults, parents should be aware of what is in the drinks that kids are drinking because the calories do have an effect on kids much more so than they do on adults.

  22. bnosach says:

    Mmm, especially that blue Gatorade looks natural and doesn’t pretend to contain any chemicals.

  23. Anitra says:

    @enm4r: Vending machines are not removed from schools because kids doing after-school activities don’t know how to plan ahead and bring snacks with them.

    I didn’t play any sports in highschool, but I stayed after school as late as 6pm some nights for choir & drama rehearsals and Science Olympiad preparation. (Yes, I am a geek.) If I got too hungry, I would head over to the machine and grab a candy bar.

    If I was having trouble staying awake in class, I’d buy a Mt.Dew between classes.

    Were these bad habits? Sure. But the vending machine wasn’t the root of the problem – the real problem was not planning ahead (i.e. bringing snacks, getting enough sleep).

  24. I wonder why there are vending machines at all in schools.

    @RokMartian: Because the schools are broke and the companies whose products are in the vending machines are giving the school money.

  25. ghettoimp says:

    This gaining-13-pounds thing seems like nonsense.

    If I begin by supposing you would otherwise eat exactly the right number of calories to maintain your weight, then I can make all kinds of absurd claims. For example, “Eating an apple a day will cause you to gain 7.3 lbs in a year” follows from 70 cal/apple times 365 days, over 3500 cal/lb.

    In any event, if you want healthy children, feed them healthy food. (Hint: it’s the stuff that grows out of the ground and on trees.)

  26. timmus says:

    That 13 pounds in a year sounds awfully optimistic. If one pound comes from 3500 calories and the drink has 510 calories, then I get 186,510 calories, thus 53 pounds.

  27. Fuck Lion says:

    @LBSurfer: Yes. Ideally during workouts (working hard, not a leisurely jog or elliptical workout), you should be drinking a mixture of fast-acting carbs, such as maltodextrin, and protein. Biotest’s Surge, for instance.

  28. UpsetPanda says:

    I too think it’s somewhat absurd – sure, it’s a lot of sugar, but there are a lot of people who just hate drinking water like my SO. He loves gatorade, and it’s so much better than soda, so at least if not water, he’s not drinking soda. He’s active, he’s healthy, he tries his best to eat right all of the time and I don’t see how gatorade would impact his life in a way that suggests that a 13-pound gain like this in a child could translate into adulthood. If he’s been drinking gatorade for a while now, shouldn’t it have more of an effect now since he drinks more of it (because he’s not drinking soda)?

  29. FLConsumer says:

    Lets be honest… The only reason people buy Poweraid/Gatoraide in the entertainment industry is for the bottle. They’re usually packaged in wide mouth bottles which are ideal for relieving one’s self when it’s not possible to get to the bathroom. (Remember this the next time you go to a concert and see people working the spotlights overhead.)

    @ghettoimp: Stuff that grows in the ground, eh? I LOVE a side of e.coli, C. botulinum, and Salmonella enterica with my meals!

  30. FLConsumer says:

    Just remembered this study as well:

    Sports drinks are 30 times more corrosive to your teeth than water and are 11 times more corrosive to your teeth than sodas/colas.

  31. Falconfire says:

    @LBSurfer: What I actually do is have a PWO shake made with Tang (yep good old Tang) whatever vanilla flavored protein is cheapest that month, and a half a dose of creatine (because I honestly feel the recommended dose is too much, especially if your eating foods that contain creatine too)

    Has been working great for me since I started seriously weight training and losing weight (went from 255 to 212, with my goal being 190)

    As for taste? Tastes like a creamsicle which in turn has gotten me to stop craving ice cream and crap so much.

  32. infinitysnake says:

    @Falconfire: You can make your own if you’re handy, too.

  33. Dervish says:

    @FLConsumer: I might have missed it, but where does it say that they’re 11 times more corrosive than soda? All I saw was that they had adverse effects on enamel in active individuals – i.e., people not producing enough saliva to wash the drink away. For your average kid (or Joe Schmoe sitting on the couch), I’d have to think that the sugar+acid of soda would be worse for teeth.

  34. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Papa Midnight:

    You’re not going to get a huge contribution to muscle mass from sugar water.

    I think sports drinks taste disgusting, but I don’t see a problem with them if they’re used for their original purpose…sports. After I work out I crave sugar like a crackhead craves his sweet, sweet crack. I tend more to Kool-Aid, though.

  35. FLConsumer says: