Do Sports Drinks Really Work?
We've all seen those powerade ads on tv with the All Blacks but is this information they are giving out to the public really that accurate or even biased? In this report I will analyse the biological validity information that is presented to the public about the use of sports drinks, to do this I will have a look at just 3 different sources. This is just a small sample of all of the different types of articles you may see.
Firstly what is a sports drink, well Health Ed NZ states that Sports drinks are drinks “designed for use by endurance athletes as a convenient way to replace fluid, glucose and electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium and magnesium) lost during endurance activity. Sports drinks usually contain water, sugar (although sugar-free alternatives are available), sodium, potassium, artificial colours and flavours.” Electrolytes are salts and minerals that conduct electrical impulses in the body. These electrolytes regulate nerve and muscle functions, rebuild tissues, and hydrate the body. When exercising our body needs to cool down so fluid and these electrolytes leave the cells through a process called osmosis, becoming sweat. It is important to replenish these cells with fluid and electrolytes which is why some say when exercising we should be drinking sports drinks. The glucoses role in sports drinks is to provide energy. Glucose is the simplest form of carbohydrates this means the enzymes in our body are able to quickly break down the glucoses molecules and give a quick burst of energy. Often with sports drinks we see advertisements saying it contains ‘carbohydrates' which is correct but people often do not realise the difference between complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbs gives your body long lasting energy as it is harder to break down whereas simple carbs break down very easily so they only provide you with a quick yet short burst of energy. With such high quantities of simple carbs in sports drinks it is likely that their will be a surplus of glucose that the body cannot process, instead the body converts it into fatty acid and stores it for future use (causing weight gain). So much sugar can also cause tooth decay and you would also be at a much higher risk of diabetes in the long term.
Source 1: Gatorade- Heart of a Lio
‘Heart of a Lio' is a Gatorade advertisement, the trailer and full version have a combined total of 39 million views on Youtube. The purpose of this video is to promote the Gatorade company and to commercially advertise their product. The audience this video was intended for is sports players/ active people, also younger generations such as teenagers. The information in this video is biased as the company is ultimately just trying to make money therefore it is only showing the public what its marketing team wants them to see. With such a large audience it has had the ability to influence people all over the world. This is why it is important to advertise accurate information so the public isn't misinformed. However in this video there is no explicit scientific information about what is in the drink and how it works.
This animation video is about Lionel Messi, one of the world's top football players. He is seen to have a growth defect as a child which sets him apart from his teammates however he doesn't let that stop him and he continues to follow his dream. With everyone around the world looking up at him and expecting nothing but perfection the pressure starts to get to him and his performance levels drop. Messi starts to doubt his ability but after hearing his younger self say to him “when you have a dream to chase nothing can stop you” he gets back up with the motivation he needs to achieve his dream. He takes a sip of gatorade and is then literally standing on top of the world. This gives the impression to the millions of people who watched this advertisement that with just one sip of gatorade you can have the instant strength and ability to play at a whole new level, sadly this isn't quite how it works. With 35g of sugar in just one bottle of gatorade it will definitely give you a boost in energy, but this is very quick to break down in the body so shortly after you would feel a sudden low of energy. Showing such a dramatic improvement in athletic ability could have impacts on society and the public as they will assume by consuming gatorade their abilities will increase, however this is not the case as the drink is only correcting electrolyte imbalances in the body and giving you that extra boost of energy from all of the added sugar.
Lionel Messi has 99.4 million instagram followers, a large proportion of this are young impressionable teens. So if Messi promotes a certain drink, shoes or even shaving product people are going to run to buy that product. By hiring Messi for this advertisement Gatorades marketing team made a smart move, this advert is not about showing the possible health benefits or any scientific information it was simply a money making scheme.
Overall this video is extremely biased as gatorade is trying to promote its own product. In my opinion this source is totally unreliable and it has only been presented to the public for advertising purposes as opposed to actually informing the public of the science behind the drink.
Source 2: Powerade- Powerade and the science of hydration
Powerade, another one of the biggest sports drink companies in the world. This article is on the Powerade NZ website and unlike the gatorade advert this is actually an article that has scientific information about the product itself… even if it is totally biased. This article is all about what powerade contains and why it is more beneficial than water. Although this article was written with economic gain in mind there are no false claims on the effect it has on the body. Powerade and the science of hydration is however biased because it only shows one side. In this article we get to read all of the positives about sports drinks but we don't get to read about any problems caused by consuming or even not consuming them.
Thankfully it is aimed at those who sports drinks have been designed for. In its first paragraph it states that powerade is “for those who train hard and push their body to the limits” which is great because when only doing light exercise our body isn't losing much electrolytes we also are not losing as much water this means it's not hard to replenish these important electrolytes and water through your standard diet. However for those doing very regular intense workouts your body needs more than just your standard diet, this is where sports drinks can play a necessary part in helping you perform at your absolute best. With Powerade clearly stating who the product is designed for people are able to work out whether or not sports drinks are right for them. Often people think that they are good for everyone even if you are just doing light exercise, however when consuming sports drink whilst only doing light exercise your body isn't able to break down the high quantities of sugar in the drinks. This excess sugar is turned into a fatty acid and stored for later, in the long term this going to cause weight gain and potentially more harmful problems.
Calling the product “Powerade ion 4” makes the person reading this article feel that
Powerade has not only given accurate information about their product but they have also given links to other pages of theirs that help you determine your personal sweat rate, fluid intake in different environment and even strategies for consuming fluid whilst running. This shows that they aren't just trying to sell a product they are providing you with the information that can help you perform at your absolute best. Determining your personal sweat rate isn't necessary for someone only doing light exercise but for someone doing lots of intense workouts it's important to know how much fluid you're losing. This is so you know how much you need to replace to ensure you don't become dehydrated. As electrolytes travel with the water and leave the body through sweating it's important to also replenish these after intense workouts. To do this powerade has said that their Powerade Ion 4 is a great option.
Source 3: The Daily Meal- 9 Negative effects of sports drinks
The Daily Meals article on the 9 negative effects of sports drinks was mostly one sided with the opinion that sports drinks weren't needed, but what would you expect from an article titled ‘9 Negative effects of sports drinks'. I found it was almost refreshing to read after seeing so many articles entirely based on the pros rather than any of the cons. This article wasn't totally against the consumption of sports drinks but they did highly recommend that they were only for people doing intense exercise lasting more than an hour and were not for the average athlete doing light exercise. Instead they feel that water is a perfectly good option and through a healthy diet you can easily replenish the electrolytes lost during exercise.
With any product there is always going to be different sides to the story, articles may be biased or even contain inaccurate information. Sports drinks is a great example of how the public can be easily misinformed on the truth behind the product, especially with a large amount of the research done being sponsored by sports drink companies themselves. After looking at the 3 different sources I feel that Gatorades advertisement was the most unreliable and showed no scientific information to back up its claims. The powerade article was clearly biased as it was promoting its own product however it still gave some strong scientific information to backup their claims and they clearly expressed that sports drinks aren't for everyone. The article on The Daily Meals ‘9 negative effects of sports drinks' was the only article of the 3 that was not promoting a specific product, to me it was very refreshing to read and get to see the side to sports drinks a lot of articles tend to forget about.
This report isn't about whether or not you should consume sports drinks it's about how different sources of information can be biased, accurate, and even inaccurate with what they are presenting to the public. At the end of the day it's up to you whether you choose to consume sports drinks or not, but it is important to know that often the information you rely on to form your opinions are often based on false or misleading information. These sources you find have often been created for economic gain or are entirely opinionated.
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