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The Difference Between Energy & Sports Drinks

by The Kid's Doctor Staff


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Recently children across the country headed back to school and to sports practices. With football and band practices already underway, many kids are going to be thirsty and looking for an energy boost. Because of that, parents need to take a few minutes to educate themselves and their children about the differences between a sports drink and an energy drink.

“Sports drinks we use for hydration to deal with sweat loss and to replenish fluids,” says pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard. “If your sweat loss is not replaced when practicing on the field and then you loose sodium and you don’t give yourself an electrolyte solution back you can have a problem with getting dehydrated.”

Dr. Hubbard says sports drinks are balanced to provide you or your child what has been sweated out during a period of high activity, like football or dance practice. She says for just a regular run you or your child would probably be fine rehydrating with water.

Many parents are not sure how much fluid their child needs. On average, Dr. Hubbard recommends 500cc (about a l and a half) of water two hours prior to exercise and 250cc every 20 to 30 minutes during heavy exercise to off-set sweat losses. “Children should hydrate during school when they have two-a-day practices,” she says.

Dr. Hubbard also advises parents to read the labels and discuss with their children what they are drinking to make sure they are hydrating with a sports drink instead of an energy drink, as there is a huge difference between the two.

“They (energy drinks) are marketed for mental and stimulant effects, not for hydration. I think you really need to realize that for your teen, they’re really not drinking this to hydrate, they’re drinking it for the stimulant effect, the boost, the wake-up.”

One other growing concern with energy drinks is that they are also being mixed with alcohol. “On college campuses, kids are mixing these with alcohol so they can drink more and not feel it as much, which is very alarming.”

Most energy drinks are loaded with caffeine and large amounts of sugar. Drinking too many energy drinks can cause rapid heartbeat, anxiety attacks, abdominal pain and cramping, all related to ingesting large amounts of energy drinks.

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