Natural sports drinks have long been in popularity amongst athletes and fitness-minded individuals. Here’s how they can boost your performance.
Who else remembers the flashy Gatorade commercials of the early 2000s, featuring athletes literally sweating Gatorade while engaging in sports activity?
And while sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, and Propel Fitness Water remain popular today, a sector of natural sports drinks like coconut water has exploded in popularity over time.
In this article, we’re going to examine some all-natural sports drinks, and whether they’re better for you than other leading sports drinks.
How Good Are These Natural Sports Drinks?
Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that sports drinks are not interchangeable with energy drinks.
Even though they may be in the same aisle, reaching for a bottle of Gatorade is absolutely not the same as reaching for a can of Monster energy drink. You can read this guide on energy drinks for more information.
Here are the most popular natural sports drinks and how they can influence your performance:
1. Coconut Water
Coconut water gained a reputation as the latest “miracle drink” some years ago, with brands like Vita Coco and Zico easily being found on supermarket shelves.
However, it’s worth noting that not all coconut waters are good for you. You really need to investigate the different brands and read the nutritional labels.
Vita Coco for example is known to have a higher sugar content than unsweetened coconut water brands. It’s recommended that active lifestyle adults stay within 40 – 60 grams of sugar per day.
Vita Coco contains 11g of sugar per 8 fl oz, which is 1/3rd of the average daily recommended sugar intake for adults.
In comparison, a 16 fl oz bottle of Gatorade contains around 30g of sugar. So that’s a little more than half the daily recommended sugar intake for most adults.
A select few types of athletes do actually need the extra carbs from the higher sugar content, but those are exceptions.
Generally speaking, most normal people are better off with lower sugar amounts and don’t need to reach for a post-workout sports drink.
So it could be said that unsweetened coconut water is better for you than a sports drink like Gatorade.
This is because a 100% natural, unsweetened coconut water will contain as little as 2g of sugar per 8 fl oz and a higher concentration of vitamins and potassium than a bottle of Gatorade, but you also have to consider serving sizes.
Using Vita Coco as an example again, it is typically sold in 8 fl ozs that contain 470 milligrams potassium. A 16 fl oz bottle of Gatorade contains 77mg of potassium.
So obviously, at half the fluid ounces, Vita Coco contains much more potassium and slightly less sugar than Gatorade.
2. Watermelon Water
Watermelon water is another “all-natural” health/sports drink craze sweeping supermarket aisles. Pure cold-pressed watermelon is 90% water but is also fiber-rich, and high in vitamin C and vitamin A.
However, again, you need to really be aware of added sugars. One of the most popular watermelon water brands, Wtrmln Wtr, contains about 12g of natural sugar (from the watermelon fruit itself, no sugar added by the manufacturer).
So you can see that purely all-natural watermelon water by itself delivers almost as much sugar as Vita Coco which contains added sugar.
So if you’re sugar-conscious, you really want to check the labels and avoid watermelon drinks with sugar added!
3. Cactus Water
Another buzzy trend that’s recently been growing is cactus water. Because cacti naturally contain water, why not drink it, right?
All-natural cactus water contains less sugar than coconut water, usually around half the sugar content.
So for sugar-conscious people, cactus water is an even better choice than coconut water, and far better than a sports drink like Gatorade.
However, it’s important to be aware that cactus water can have a laxative effect. This is because most cactus water brands are made from prickly pear cactus.
According to Healthline, “cactus water may cause diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems in some people because prickly pear can have a laxative effect. Moreover, high doses of prickly pear may decrease blood sugar levels. Thus, taking them in combination with blood-sugar-lowering medication could lead to hypoglycemia, a dangerous condition characterized by low blood sugar levels.”
There’s really no shortage of trendy non-water water drinks out there. If water can be drawn from it, companies will figure out a way to bottle and sell it.
What’s most important is to do your research and take your personal dietary needs into consideration.
If you’re a highly active athlete, you may in fact need something with slightly higher calorie and sugar values than all-natural cactus water with 1g of sugar.
And if you’re an average person, cactus water is a better idea than a Gatorade, but stay close to the bathroom.
So are natural sports drinks good for you? Yeah, sure, just be aware of added ingredients and what you actually need in your body.