You are on page 1of 12

Are Sports and Energy Drinks, for Example Gatorade and Monster Energy, Harmful or

Beneficial to the Human Body?


Laura Yancey
Ottawa University
Abstract
Sports and energy drinks, like Gatorade and Monster Energy, are well-loved beverages
consumed by many people, not just athletes. These tangy, delicious beverages are marketed to all
types of people including children, teenagers, and adults and are said to help replenish
electrolytes, provide energy, and hydrate during a rigorous workout or on an everyday basis.
Although the manufacturers of these products push this information on the public, they do not
tell the many secrets they are hiding when it comes to what they are putting in their products.
The harmful ingredients found in the sports and energy drinks have a number of effects on the
human body, in which most people do not know or care about. These effects can be detrimental
and cause life-long issues, especially when consumed by children and adolescents. The goal of
this research project is to provide a sufficient amount of information regarding the comparisons
and differences in sports and energy drinks, the true purpose of Gatorades creation, common
misconceptions most hold about sports drinks, the ingredients in which sports drinks, like
Gatorade, contain, how these ingredients harm the body, and the safe and healthy alternatives
that can be consumed rather than sports drinks. This research project will also strive to help
individuals understand how and when to properly consume sports drinks when aiming to
replenish ones body of electrolytes, to stay hydrated, and get energized in order to perform at the
best ability possible.

Introduction
A major phenomenon in today's world is deciding whether or not sports and energy
drinks, for example Gatorade and Monster Energy, are ideal and healthy to drink when
participating in an athletic event or on an everyday basis. Many people do not understand the
harmful effects that these drinks could have on the body or specifically what these drinks
contain. People often have misconceptions when it comes to understanding exactly what they are
drinking. The ingredients found in these drinks can have harmful and damaging effects to the
body, especially when given to children and adolescents. With more and more people consuming
these harmful beverages, there is less knowledge on how badly they are affecting them. Along
with more people consuming these products, the obesity rates and rates of other diseases are
constantly rising due to sugary, high calorie options like Gatorade and Monster Energy. It is
important that people begin to realize how to properly take care of their bodies, even if it comes
down to simply changing a beverage they have every so often.
Are Sports and Energy Drinks Similar?
When thinking of a sports drink or an energy drink, a common misconception could be
that they are similar or even the same product. Both drinks claim to provide energy and replenish
needed vitamins and minerals in the body, but are these two drinks similar? According to the
article The Unseen Dangers of Sports and Energy Drinks, posted on the Rutgers University
on-line library by Larissa Burgdorfer, a student in the field of life science, and Julie M. Fagan,
Ph.D., these two drinks have little to no similarities other than the fact that they are both harmful.
The article states that both drinks do provide some sort of energy, but the energy in energy drinks
comes from caffeine while the energy that comes from sports drinks comes from a high amount

of sugar and additive. The energy in sports drinks also comes from B-vitamins found within the
drinks. These vitamins help extract energy from food that is consumed rather than from a large
amount of caffeine and other products.
The other major difference between sports and energy drinks is that energy drinks do not,
in any way, rehydrate the human body. According to the article "Energy Drinks: What is all the
hype? The dangers of energy drink consumption., the caffeine found in these drinks is a
stimulant and causes the heart rate to rise rapidly, causing the blood pressure to rise and use more
water that is found in the body. In turn, when combined with exercise and physical movement,
this causes the body to become severely overworked and dehydrated. This information is
provided by Mandy Rath. Rath holds a Master of Science in Nursing and works for the
University of Mary in Steele, North Dakota. The research required for this project was funded by
the University of Mary.
True Purpose of Sports Drinks
One common misconception when thinking about sports drinks is that if someone is
exercising, regardless of the intensity or length of the work out, they need to replenish all of
electrolytes and replenish their hydration levels. This is true to a certain extent, but those athletes
do not need to be consuming a drink like Gatorade when only exercising for a minimal amount.
According to the article Gatorade- Heritage and History found on the official Gatorade
website, the true intent of a sports drink of this caliber was to replenish the lost fluids,
electrolytes, and carbohydrates that the football players belonging to the University of Florida
were losing while practicing for long hours in the strong Florida heat. The assistant coach sat
down with a team of physicians and formulated a new product that would solve these issues.

Many people in the exercise world or anyone who is somewhat physically active today believe
they are in need of the same types of replenishing factors when they are not losing near as much
as the college football players. The information extracted from this article is credible due to the
fact that it was found on the corporate, licensed and private Gatorade website. Considering this
information is from the official Gatorade website, it is strongly biased towards Gatorade and
favors this product.
What is the Appropriate Amount of Liquid Intake?
As mentioned before, if an individual is participating in a normal length workout that is
not beyond the rigor of a college football practice, there is no need for a drink like Gatorade. It
will not cause as much harm if small amounts are consumed but it is unnecessary to drink a
whole bottle. In the article The Importance Of Human Hydration: Perceptions Among
Healthcare Professionals Across Europe. , it is mentioned that a normal human being should
consume four to six ounces of water for every fifteen minutes of exercise. This amounts to a
minimum of a full glass every thirty minutes. This article also states that another common
misconception found when it comes to sports drinks is that most people believe the sugary, high
sodium drinks are rehydrating them. In fact, these sports drinks are full of electrolytes like
sodium. The sodium found in these drinks is there to replace the sodium and salt lost during
exercise. When someone consumes an excessive amount of sodium like they would when
drinking a Gatorade, their body craves more water; therefore making them grab for the H2O. In
reality, the extra water they are consuming because of the Gatorade is what is really keeping
them hydrated. This information is provided by J. E. Holdsworth, a medical doctor at the
European Hydration Institute in Madrid, Spain.

According to the article Best Thirst-Quenching Drinks by Sharon Palmer, a dietitian


and health-based author, it is mentioned that the appropriate water intake for a female is 2.7 liters
per day, which evens out to be about nine, eight ounce glasses and the appropriate water intake
for a male is 3.7 liters per day, which evens out to be about twelve, eight ounce glasses. Palmer
also describes how a normal persons diet should consist of eighty percent of water from simply
consuming water throughout the day and twenty percent of water consumed from the food a
person takes in, primarily fruits and vegetables. She states that if a person follows these
guidelines, they should not have to worry about becoming dehydrated during physical activity,
even if it is very rigorous and tough.
Harmful Ingredients
Many ingredients found in sports drinks, like Gatorade, can have harmful effects and not
provide the promises of energy enhancement and hydration, and even weight loss. In reality, the
ingredients found in these drinks cause the opposite reaction. From personal research, it has been
found that a 591 milli-liter bottle of "Cool Blue" Gatorade contains one hundred-thirty calories,
two hundred-seventy milligrams of sodium, thirty-four grams of carbohydrates, thirty-four grams
of sugar, and zero grams of protein. These ingredients might not seem like they would do much
harm to someone's body, but one must take into consideration that these ingredients are coming
from a beverage. According to the article "Sugar Sweetened Beverages and Obesity Risk in
Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Analysis on How Methodological Quality Influence
Conclusions, it is stated that the caloric intake caused by these drinks on children and
adolescents have a direct correlation to young obesity. This articles suggests that if a child or
young person, even adults, are exercising and losing these vital electrolytes, but are not working
out to the point of dehydration, the electrolytes and other minerals throughout the body that are

lost can be replenished simply by eating healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables. It mentions
that this is a much safer, smarter way to replenish these necessities rather than consume a large
amount of calories and sugar from a sports drink. The contributors of this information are Sophie
Bucher Della Torre, Maaike Kruseman, and Amelie Keller. Torre is a registered dietician at the
University of Applied Science and Arts Western Switzerland in Delemont, Switzerland. She also
holds her Masters of Public Health. Kruseman specializes in public health, allied health science,
and nutrition and dietetics at the same university. Keller holds a bachelor of science and a master
of public health and is employed by Frederiksberg Hospital in Frederiksberg, Denmark.
Unhealthy Results of Sports Drinks
There are many ways sports drinks can affect the body. Not only does it provide an
enormous amount of sugar, but it can also harm numerous functions throughout the body. As
mentioned before, the large amount of sugar found in these sports drinks can cause obesity and
other diseases. The article "Sugar obsession in America!: What is the impact of added sugar on
our health?, states that the sugar in these sports drinks can lead to type two diabetes and
cardiovascular disease. It also mentions that even "sugar free" or diet beverages still have
harmful effects to the body. According to this article, beverages that are "diet" or "sugar free"
contain additive non-nutritive sweeteners like acesulfame and sucralose. These sweeteners that
are often known as "fake" sugar can alter hunger signals within the body, enforcing the person to
consume more calories because the body feels like it needs compensatory energy. The article
reveals that people who do consume these diet beverages that contain artificial sweeteners are
more commonly obese than those who do not consume them. Regardless of whether the nutrition
label has "sugar free" or "diet" on it, the beverage could still be as harmful as the full calorie, full
amount of sugar beverage that tastes better. When it comes to sports drinks like Gatorade, there

is no escaping the harmful effects. The author of this article, Karen Davis, is the former president
of the Commonwealth Fund. This organization performs independent research on health and
social issues. Davis holds her Ph.D. and is an economist who has combined her interest in the
economy and statistics with her desire to improve todays healthcare system.
According to a different article, "2 Reasons to Skip Sports Drinks" by Stephanie
Breakstone, a medical professional and medical author/editor, the sugar found in sports drinks
doesn't only cause obesity and other diseases, but it can also harm teeth. This article states that
the sugar and citric acid that is added to these drinks eats away the enamel of teeth. A group of
researchers from New York University College of Dentistry performed a test to explain how
harmful this sugar and citric acid is. The test involved placing cow teeth in a sports drink for
seventy to ninety-five minutes, which is equivalent to sipping a sports drink throughout the day.
The results clearly showed that the enamel of the cow's teeth was eaten away, which caused the
teeth to be weaker.
Similar information has been recorded in the article "Experimental Sports Drinks With
Minimal Dental Erosion Effect. This article states that fifty-seven percent of children and
teenagers from eleven to fourteen years of age who consume sports and energy drinks were
found to have enamel erosion. It explains that most sports drinks on the market have a pH level
of three to four, which places these products in the acid range and that even if the citric acid that
is put in to these drinks was neutralized, it would still have harsh effects on enamel. It can be
concluded that no matter how hard a person tries to escape the dangerous effects of these sports
and energy drinks, there is no way to do so other than choosing a healthier, more beneficial
option. The author of this article, Jukka H. Meurman, is the Professor of Oral Infectious Diseases

at the University of Helsinki in Finland. He is also the head physician at the Department of Oral
and Maxillofacial Diseases at the Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland.
Safe and Healthy Alternatives
Many fitness activists and health professionals would simply say water is the best
alternative to a sports or energy drink. But what if water just is not doing the job? In this case,
there are many other options that can help replenish lost electrolytes and get energy levels back
up when needed before, during, or after a strenuous workout. According to the article "Why
Sports Drinks are a Bad Idea" composed by medical doctor, Gregory Fox, and his registered
nurse, Pam Whitee, on the Heritage Integrative Healthcare website, pure coconut water is one of
the best alternatives to sports drinks. It explains how coconut water has the highest source of
electrolytes when it comes to a beverage.
The article "'Big, Strong And Healthy. Young Children's Identification of Food and Drink
That Contribute To Healthy Growth explains how children and teenagers should be drinking
primarily water. It states that in order for children and teenagers to stay healthy and consume the
proper nutrients, they should drink two to three glasses of low-fat milk a day. This milk will offer
a great source of protein, vitamin D, and calcium. It also mentions that children and teenagers
could possibly have two to three glasses of juice a day, but juice is also very high in sugar and
calories. The author of this article, Mimi Tatlow-Golden, holds her Ph.D. and works for the UCD
School of Medicine and Medical Science in Dublin, Ireland. Tatlow-Golden had affiliations with
the School of Psychology at the University College in Dublin when constructing this research.
The last article " Vitamin Supplementation Benefits In Master Athletes states that
beverages are not the only source of vitamins and minerals when needing replenished. This

article states that healthy foods like bananas and raisins have many of the same effects for
sustaining performance and electrolyte balance before and after a hard workout. It also mentions
that homemade, all-natural drinks similar to sports drinks, without the use of an extreme amount
of sugar and citric acid, are a fun and easy way to replenish these lost vitamins and minerals. The
authors of this article are Jeanick Brisswalter and Julien Louis. Brisswalter works with the
Laboratory of Human Motricity and Sport Education and Health at the University of Nice Sophia
Antipolis in Nice, France. Louis is a professor of Sport Nutrition in the field of Sport and
Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Conclusion
There are many hard working people and athletes in the world today who are always
grabbing for a quick, thirst-quenching beverage when in need of a cool down. When picking a
beverage to consume during a workout or on an everyday basis, be sure to have knowledge about
what is in your drink and how it can affect your body. Also, have knowledge about all of the
different options that can be chosen from when considering a hydrating refreshment. Always
remember, water is calorie free and has not additive sugar and ingredients. Consider taking a
drink from a cold bottle of water during your workout rather than a bottle full of calories and
sugar.

Works Cited

Breakstone, Stephanie. "2 Reasons to Skip Sports Drinks." Prevention 61.10 (2009): 46.
EBSCOhost. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.

Brisswalter, Jeanick, and Julien Louis. "Vitamin Supplementation Benefits In Master Athletes."
Sports Medicine 44.3 (2014): 311-318 8p. CINAHL Complete. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

Bucher Della Torre, Sophie, et al. "Research: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages And Obesity Risk
In Children And Adolescents: A Systematic Analysis On How Methodological Quality May
Influence Conclusions." Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics 116.(2016): 638659. ScienceDirect. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

Burgdorfer, Larissa, Stephen Ogwang, Andrew Krajewski, and Julie M. Fagan. "The Unseen
Dangers of Sports and Energy Drinks." Rutgers Library. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.

Davis, Karen. "Sugar Obsession In America!: What Is The Impact Of Added Sugar On Our
Health?." Rdh 31.12 (2011): 46-49 4p. CINAHL Complete. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.

"Gatorade- Heritage and History." Gatorade. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.

Holdsworth, J. E. "The Importance Of Human Hydration: Perceptions Among Healthcare


Professionals Across Europe." Nutrition Bulletin 37.1 (2012): 16-24 9p. CINAHL Complete.
Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

Meurman, Jukka H., et al. "Experimental Sports Drinks With Minimal Dental Erosion Effect."
Scandinavian Journal Of Dental Research 98.2 (1990): 120-128. Health Source:
Nursing/Academic Edition. Web. 5 Apr. 2016.

Pirotin, Shauna, Christina Becker, and Patricia B. Crawford. "Looking Beyond the Marketing
Claims of New Beverages." Public Health Advocacy. Aug. 2014. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.

Rath, Mandy. "Energy Drinks: What Is All The Hype? The Dangers Of Energy Drink
Consumption." Journal Of The American Academy Of Nurse Practitioners 24.2 (2012): 70-76
7p. CINAHL Complete. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.

Tatlow-Golden, Mimi, et al. "'Big, Strong And Healthy'. Young Children's Identification Of Food
And Drink That Contribute To Healthy Growth." Appetite 71.(2013): 163-170 8p. CINAHL
Complete. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

Whitee, Pam, Fox, Gregory. "Why Sports Drinks Are a Bad Idea." Heritage Integrative Health.
Web. 19 Mar. 2016.