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I’m so confused about sports drinks. Don’t I need them if I sweat?



Most kids don’t need sports drinks

Sports drinks are flavored beverages that usually contain water, sugar, and minerals such as sodium and potassium. These minerals are called “electrolytes.” You may have heard sports drinks quench thirst and keep you hydrated, provide energy for your working muscles, and replace electrolytes lost in sweat. But, for most kids, it’s best to drink water.

Graphic: 'Ask Yourself'


  • Why do I want a sports drink?
  • Some kids say:
    • “I’ve seen college and professional athletes* drinking them. Everybody on my team is drinking them.”
      * Many athletes you see drinking sports drinks either 1) don’t really need them or 2) are exercising vigorously for more than an hour, sometimes in hot and humid weather.
    • “I drink them to boost performance.”
    • “I don’t like the taste of plain water.”
  • Can you relate? What confuses you? What could you do? 

Graphic: 'Learn More'


Get some ideas that have worked for other kids.



  • Drink water when you are thirsty. Water is the best thirst quencher.
  • Drink water before, during, and after exercise. Water is all you need to stay hydrated.
  • Keep a water bottle handy. Refill the bottle as needed. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or orange juice to your water for flavor.
  • Ask your coach if the team could have a cooler of water, rather than just the usual Gatorade® or Powerade®.

Energy and electrolytes

  • You don’t need the sugar in sports drinks. The sugar in sports drinks can cause a blood sugar roller coaster. When blood sugar drops too low, or “crashes,” you may feel less energetic than before having the drink. You may even perform worse after having the drink.
  • Regular, balanced meals and paired snacks should provide all the energy and electrolytes you need for 60 minutes of exercise every day.
  • For all-day events, such as a soccer tournament or track meet, pack paired snacks. For example, pair fresh fruits with lightly salted nuts, or vegetables (carrots, celery, peppers) with string cheese.