Sports Drinks vs. Water: Improved Performance or Just Extra Calories?


All Photos Courtesy of Phoebe Hanson

Aarya Dev, Staff Writer

No matter what sports event you go to, sports drinks seem to be everywhere. Whether consumed by athletes or people in the crowd, these drinks, such as Gatorade, are very popular. Gatorade was first created in 1965 by a team of researchers at the University of Florida, led by Robert Cade. It was originally developed to help the Florida Gators by replenishing the student-athletes with electrolytes lost during their games. Gatorade gained its immense popularity after the team credited Gatorade for helping them win their first Orange Bowl, and the rest is history. Recently, however, the supposed health benefits of those drinks have been questioned.

“It’s good for athletes that exercise for over ninety minutes, but otherwise it’s just extra calories,” said Minnetonka High School health teacher Allyson Hornseth.


Sports drinks can be helpful in replenishing athletes with electrolytes that are lost during long periods of strenuous exercise through sweat. Electrolytes hydrate the body, balance blood acidity, lower blood pressure, help rebuild damaged tissue, and regulate nerve and muscle function. These electrolytes include calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate, potassium, and sodium. Although these electrolytes are important to your body, there are other ways to get them that involve less sugar content. Eating healthy foods like avocados, bananas, watermelon, dairy products, or drinking coconut water are great ways to get these electrolytes.

Because there are other great sources of electrolytes beyond sports drinks, many athletes decide against consuming Gatorade and similar high sugar sports drinks.

“There’s no need for it when I have water. I’d rather not put extra sugars into my body when I can just stay hydrated with water,” said Helene Carlson, ‘22, who is a gymnast for Minnetonka.

Just because your favorite athletes are drinking Gatorade doesn’t mean you should too. Trying more natural drinks such as water or even coconut water can have a similar effect on your body. At the end of the day, Gatorade only has immediate benefits for athletes during high intensity workouts and should not hold a prominent place among high school students.