A true sports drink is made with a specific mix of carbohydrates, electrolytes (mainly sodium and potassium) and water. This mix ensures the body rapidly absorbs water and is hydrated quickly. Ingredients are also added to enhance the flavour including sucrose, fructose and flavourings such as essences, extracts, cocoa, and fruit juice concentrates. Some sports drinks have added ascorbic acid, which can erode tooth enamel. If a sports drink must be consumed, it is best to use a straw to reduce contact of the fluid with teeth. Sports drinks contain kilojoules (energy) from the sugars they contain and this needs to be accounted for to prevent excessive energy intake and potentially weight gain.
What is the preferred fluid for sport?
The best choice is always water. It is recommended that all sports drinks be left for times of continuous and strenuous activity that lasts over an hour and a half. During exercise, children should be encouraged to consume water by providing them with scheduled, regular water breaks. This can be coupled with a fruit break during halftime at sports activities, which will also provide nutrition and keeps them fuelled.
If children are exercising for more than 90-minutes, alternate sports drinks with plain water to ensure they are not consuming a large amount of unnecessary kilojoules (energy).
How can I ensure that my children are hydrated?
It is difficult to remind children to continually drink fluids with all the distraction and excitement of play or sports. To make water more appealing, try adding a wedge of lemon or lime, or flavouring with herbs like mint, or spices including ginger.