Arizona Advanced Medicine Clinic

Rethink your Drink

mainImageWe are in the midst of summer and it is hot, hot, hot! With this heat comes thirst, and many of us are apt to reach for a cold soda or Gatorade to quench that thirst; but, could this be making us even more thirsty? Or even worse, pack on the pounds! Gatorade has long been known as liquid fuel for athletes, as we see it daily on our TV screens during football season. However, although this drink might be beneficial for these hard working athletes, many of us do not train as hard or as long as these athletes do in the heat. Even our children do not need the amount of sugar and calories that are packed into these drinks. If you have a Gatorade in your cupboard, take it out now and just review the nutrition label. For 12 fluid oz. of Gatorade, there are 21 grams of sugar, and that's for ONE serving. If you have the standard sized Gatorade there are about 2.5 servings per bottle. So, if you are like most people you are likely to be drinking the entire bottle rather than just the single serving. That is 52.5 grams of sugar in just ONE bottle!! The average adult should only be consuming 25 grams of sugar MAX per day. It's no wonder child obesity is on the rise.

Just to be clear on why this added sugar can be harmful to us, researchers conducted a study on healthy men with sugar-sweetened beverages. These men consumed moderate amounts of a sugar-sweetened beverage, and in just 3 weeks their cardiovascular risks increased significantly! Not only did it affect the subjects' cardiovascular system, their fasting blood sugar also increased by 60% which is a strong indicator of potential diabetes. [1] Again, to reiterate this was all in a matter of 3 weeks, many of us have been drinking "moderate" amounts of these sugar-sweetened beverages for almost a lifetime!

If this hasn't made you go into your cupboard and throw out every last Gatorade you have, let me put it into even better perspective. Grab a teaspoon out of your kitchen drawer and measure out the amount of sugar that's in your Gatorade into an empty cup. Take the amount of grams in the Gatorade (in this case 52.5 grams) and divide that by 4. This will give you the amount of teaspoons of sugar that are in a Gatorade. That comes out to about 13 teaspoons of sugar. Would you ever drink 13 teaspoons of sugar mixed with water? Or give your children 13 teaspoons of sugar while they play outside? This is exactly what you are doing when you are handing them a Gatorade.

Now, some of you may ask: "Well what about vitamin water? It has vitamins, so that means it's healthy right?" Wrong. In one bottle of Vitamin water, there are 31 grams of sugar; meaning there are almost 8 teaspoons of sugar in one bottle. The negative effects of the sugar far outweigh the benefit of the "vitamins" that are put into this beverage.

But what about the electrolytes? We need them in order to truly hydrate, right? This is absolutely true, but now that companies are realizing that people are becoming more aware of the harmful effects of sugars, they are complying by making electrolyte waters such as Smart Water or Essentia. If you are one of those people who just doesn't like that taste of water or find it to be too bland, there are water sweeteners made with the natural sweetener, Stevia, in order to give you that flavor you are looking for. OR, you can make your own naturally flavored water at home that both you and kids will love. Check out our weekly recipe to get your own ideas on how to make delicious, refreshing and TASTY water so you can beat the heat!

Aeberli, Gerber, Hochuli. "Low to moderate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption impairs glucose and lipid metabolism and promotes inflammation in young healthy men: a randomized controlled trial." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 94.2 (2011): 479-485. Web.

Tremblay, Simoneau, Bouchard. "Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism." Metabolism 43.7 (1994): 814-818. Web.