People Actually Drink That?

15 Jul

I always laugh when I go to the gym and see the folks on the treadmill guzzling down the giant Gatorade. Unwittingly they’ve just consumed close to, if not more than, the number of calories that they just burnt off at the gym, which kind of defeats the entire purpose of going in the first place. Marketing has done a good job of convincing people that if they are working out they need a sports drink; replacing those electrolytes is healthy, right? And not only is it “healthy,” but it’ll also make you go faster, be stronger, and sweat orange! I mean, who doesn’t want to sweat orange? The thing is, if you are working out for under an hour, you don’t need a sports drink. Water will do you just fine. Water will replenish the liquids you lost, and it’s calorie free, so you won’t blow all that hard work.

After years of going on and off Weight Watchers I am fairly well trained to not drink my calories (unless I’m at the pub, of course), so you will rarely see me with a sports drink, glass of juice, or regular soda. I do put a splash of almond milk in my coffee, but on a daily basis that is the extent of my liquid calories. When you’re going to run 8-miles on an 85 degree day in Philadelphia (at my 11-minute mile pace) though, you’re going to need a sports drink. Not the giant bucket’o’Gatorade that they sell these days, but something with electrolytes, sugars, and perhaps even some fluorescent dye is definitely in order.

I planned my run so that around mile 4 I would run past a shopping complex with a grocery store, Walmart, and McDonalds. One those would be able to supply me with my Gatorade fix. In the interest of time, I went with the Walmart, because it was the closest to my actual route, and on the side of the road I was running on. After looking in every single little refrigerator at the front of the store I realized that I was wrong in my belief that they would have a Gatorade for me. They had Coca Cola, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Iced Tea, Monster and RockStar Energy drinks, even those fancy Starbucks drinks in the cans, but no Gatorade. Finally, I noticed some Sobe Life Water. I’ve never had Sobe Life Water before, but the bottle was similar to a Gatorade bottle and it’s marketed as a “healthy drink,” so I glanced at the nutritional information and saw that it had a good bit of sodium, I figured it was good enough, and I bounced.

When I went to open the bottle I had my first inkling that I’d made a mistake. Listed on the wrapper in fairly large letters (I have no idea how I missed this) was “O Cal, Naturally Sweetened.” Well, that’s problematic, part of point of drinking a sports drink is to ingest some calories, and to take in some sugars. I had accidentally found something with no sugar, which normally I’d be excited about, but not in this time. I’d already paid for it, and I really wanted to get back out on the road, and I figured it’d at least give me some hydration and some electrolytes, so I opened it up and took a gulp. It was awful. It was sickeningly sweet, and tasted reminiscent of a medicine I had to take as a child. So there I stood, in the doorway of the Walmart, drinking the taste equivalent of cough syrup, thinking to myself, “this is why I never go in this store!”

Warning: May cause childhood medicine flashbacks

Warning: May cause childhood medicine flashbacks

After this major beverage fail I think I’m going to start DIYing my sports drinks. A quick Google search yielded several options for natural sports drink options that are lower in calories and in fluorescent dye. I’m going to try this one first:

Natural Sports Drink Recipe:

3.5 cups water

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

An eight-ounce serving provides 50 calories and 110 mg sodium (source – HuffPo: Sports Drink Alternatives? 7 Healthier Picks To Power Up Your Workout)


4 Responses to “People Actually Drink That?”

  1. Ilana July 15, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    DIY sports drink sounds fun (and economical)! If you are still looking for other options, I am a huge fan of Nuun tablets ( You drop one in your water bottle (they come in a bunch of flavors) and they do a great job of replacing electrolytes without all of the junk that’s in Gatorade.

    • Jessica Main July 15, 2013 at 10:29 am #

      Thanks for the recommendation! It’s been so long since I’ve needed refueling agents that I’m out of the loop on the latest and greatest 🙂

  2. Chuck July 15, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    I always prep a 20 oz., iced water bottle to have in the car when I come off the route. Usually the water is flavored with a “flavor enhancer” like Mio or Dasani. I understand there is some discussion about how healthy these products are, but they work for me. I’ve heard of the Nunn tablets, but haven’t found them on store shelves as yet. Perhaps I’ll look now that I have more info.

  3. Leah Lucci July 15, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    This is why I make slushie smoothies with, like, water + a little OJ and AJ and occasionally some fruit. Yum for the go, like, 100 cals. I hate those “life water” and “vitamin water” things, though they apparently do well enough to keep 50 Cent a zillionaire.

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