Hydrate to Perform

Will sports drinks improve my youth athlete’s performance? Are sports drinks a healthy beverage choice for school lunch?

There is no doubt that you will see at least one large Gatorade cooler on the side line filled with Gatorade or another type of sports drink. In many places sports drinks have replaced water as the go-to drink. These carbohydrate, protein, electrolyte containing beverages provide appropriate hydration and nutrition for athletes participating in intense and prolonged exercise lasting more than 60 minutes. Carbohydrates become a necessity to prevent fatigue and maintain performance during 60 minute bouts of exercise. However, water remains the ideal beverage to ensure hydration, control body temperature in various environmental conditions, and optimize athletic performance.

Routine consumption of sports drinks in place of water during regular physical activity and in the lunchroom or at home can lead to excessive calorie consumption, increase risk of overweight and dental problems. Also, excessive consumption of sports drinks can throw off the balance of carbohydrate, fat, and protein due to the high amount of sugar that is in most sports drinks. Youth athletes who consume an enough total calories consume a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes, therefore, it is not necessary to supplement during regular activity.

In future posts, I will expand on the most recent snack trends that are said to improve athlete’s performance. Are protein bars and protein shakes the best snacks pre and/or post practice?



Committee on Nutrition and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness (2011). Clinical report—sports drinks and energy drinks for children and adolescents: Are they appropriate? Pediatrics, 127, 1182–1189.

Fink, H. H., & Mikesky, A. E. (2015). Practical application in sports nutrition (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Gavin, M. L. (2014). Kids and On-the-Go Nutrition. Kids Health. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cereal-bars.html#

Muth, N. D. (2016). Are sports drinks a smart choice for young athletes? Retrieved from https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/2226/are-sports-drinks-a-smart-choice-for-young/