Suppose you’re hot, sweaty, and parched and there’s a neon-colored sports drink within reach…what do you do? Conventional sports drinks can hydrate you and replenish electrolytes (minerals that perform critical functions in your body and get depleted when you sweat). But they also deliver gobs of added sugar, food dyes, artificial flavors, and other additives. For example, a banana and some salted nuts make a great post-workout snack. Other electrolyte-rich foods include pickles, skin-on potatoes, yogurt (unsweetened versions), and sauces or condiments that contain salt. For periods of prolonged sweating (such as a tennis tournament or a long, steep hike), you may decide on a sports drink, but make it a quality one. Read the label carefully for added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other additives.
“The biggest mistake people make is thinking that the best way to stay hydrated and replace electrolytes is through sugar-sweetened sports drinks,” notes Cleveland Clinic nutritionist Amy Gannon, RD.