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Dance Rants: Sports Drinks

November 7, 2021 | Learning, Nutrition | 0 comments | Author:

best personal trainerThe current fitness industry needs a serious make-over. Fitness should not just be about the selfies in the mirror you take showing your abs. It should be about feeling your best to be your best at life. The industry, like any other, is after your money. They will market products that they will make you think you need. They will cut corners to save money and yet still charge you for supposed top quality. I’m not talking about gadgets to help you squat today, I’m referring mostly to nutritional deficiencies. Take Gatorade for instance. Gatorade or Powerade or any of those “sports drinks” are all a waste of money. They show you commercials of professional athletes guzzling the stuff, so it seems legitimate. They say it will replenish what you lose while working out. Upon examining the ingredients, you will discover that you absolutely don’t want to put those substances in your body. If you are being healthy and active enough to exercise, don’t ruin it with these drinks.

Ingredients on labels are listed in order of the amount in the product. For example the first ingredient in Gatorade is water, meaning there is more water than anything else in the drink. That’s cool, no problems there. I would hope it was purified water with the chlorine and fluoride removed. The very next ingredient is sucrose. Water then sugar. This particular bottle contains 21 grams of sugar. For a little perspective, a Snickers bar has 12 grams of sugar. Why anyone thinks its ok to drink more sugar than a candy bar, even after extreme exercise is beyond me. A Coke has 33 grams of sugar; seems a bit too close for comfort, right? And we are not talking about unrefined, mineral-rich sugar here, it is straight up sucrose. Next on our ingredient list is dextrose, which is another form of sugar! Dextrose is just glucose, which is like blood sugar, except this is produced from corn and is therefore likely GMO. Sucrose, on the other hand is glucose +fructose and is common table sugar. We could just stop now.

Next is citric acid. It is naturally found in citrus fruits and it’s a preservative and a flavoring agent. When it is naturally occurring it poses no problems. However, when it is used to make items last longer on the shelf, it is mostly processed with sulfuric acid and can leave lingering mold or sulfites and cause potentially cause asthmatic or allergic reactions. Some forms of citric acid can be safe while others not so safe.

The next ingredient on the list is “natural flavors.” This is a scary one because it could be almost anything that is derived from a “natural source.” They don’t have to disclose what it is legally. It could be from a plant or animal sources. It could have gmo’s in it or MSG. Sounds real shady to me. Just say what it is, man.

Sodium citrate is a salt produced from citric acid and it’s after the natural flavors on our ingredient list. Monopotassium phosphate is next and is used as a preservative and a source of potassium-which is an electrolyte. Phosphates can cause an imbalance of phosphorus and calcium in the body. Too much phosphorus can make the body draw calcium away from bones or teeth to correct the imbalance. Potassium is better absorbed in its organic acid plant form.

Gum Arabic is next up in the ingredient list. It is known as edible glue. It’s an emulsifier, most notably used in soft drinks to keep the sugar from sinking to the bottom. It’s used for the same reason here in the Gatorade. The sourcing of the gum is a problematic issue. Most of it comes from North Africa and mostly from the country of Sudan. It’s not responsibly produced or sustainable. “In 1997, when the US government brought sanctions against Sudan – the world’s biggest producer of the gum – for giving refuge to Islamic terrorists, lobbyists protested and as a result the only product exempt from an export ban was gum arabic; the US said such a ban would have hurt the country’s food industry” (McEachran 3). I don’t like the sound of that either.

Now we’ve reached yellow number 5. Its chemical name is tartrazine. Artificial colors have been shown to cause hyperactivity in children and can exacerbate symptoms of ADHD. There are rumors of tartrazine lowering sperm count. Studies go back and forth about the prophylactic effects; it’s hard to know for sure.

Glycerol is our next ingredient. Glycerol is a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols aren’t actually digested, so they count as zero calorie sweeteners, but they can cause gastrointestinal disorders, usually gas.

Ester of Rosin is a stabilizer, emulsifier and thickener. It’s most commonly used in citrus flavored products to produce a more authentic fruit flavor and to balance out the intensity of the citrus flavor. Therefore it may not be present in all Gatorade flavors, but I am looking at a yellow bottle label. Ester of rosin is said to be a safer alternative to Bromated vegetable oil, which it could be used in conjunction with, as it is here. Bromated vegetable oil is a flame retardant and is banned in many European countries. It displaces iodine, which could cause cancer in the breast, thyroid, ovary or prostate. Pepsico has released statements promising to remove it from all their products, so it may not be much of a concern for much longer, still check your labels. Of course the safest way to avoid all these chemicals would simply be to avoid sports drinks.

I hope you are getting the picture with these types of drinks-save yourself a headache and some money by just drinking water instead of these sugary, chemically saturated beverages. If you are doing something extremely active and you do feel like you need some electrolytes, reach for some of nature’s Gatorade-coconut water. There are better and worse forms of coconut water too, so watch out. I’ll refer you to Foodbabe’s article on the subject.

Don’t fall for the fitness industry’s tricks of looking good quick and gimmicky products you don’t need especially when it comes to what you are putting inside your body. Food (and drink) is fuel. Put in the best quality food without the harmful substances that can hold you back.

1. McEachran, Rich. “Gum arabic: this invisible ingredient in soft drink supply chains.” The Guardian.






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