Sports Drinks: Winners and Losers

Bottled waters and sports drinks are a multibillion-dollar industry, but ABC News' medical contributor Dr. David Katz says these drinks offer little more than extra calories, sugar and sodium to our diets.

Katz reviews the winners and losers of sports drinks and fortified waters.

The Losers

Gatorade

8 ounces has 50 calories and 110 milligrams of sodium.

Katz says that Gatorade might be appropriate for elite athletes like Lance Armstrong. But it is marketed to everyone, providing unnecessary calories, sugar and salt to the average person.

Gatorade says the drink's "ingredients serve to help rehydrate, replenish and refuel for optimal performance."

Powerade

32 ounces contains 280 calories, 220 milligrams of sodium and 76 grams of sugar.

Like Gatorade, Powerade, made by Coca-Cola, is a "sports drink" marketed to appeal to Olympic couch potatoes, says Katz.

Coca-Cola responded: "Sports drinks are designed for people who are exercising or working and need to replace electrolytes and energy. The only circumstances under which we can envision in which a person would consume an entire 32 ounce. bottle of POWERade is during or after strenuous exercise. In lesser amounts, such as a standard 8-ounce serving, POWERade meets the FDA definition of 'low sodium,' and has less sodium than a glass of milk."

Glaceau Vitamin Water

8 ounces has 50 calories from sugar.

Katz says, "If we had a problem with epidemic malnutrition in this country, a drink such as Vitamin Water might make sense. But since we have, instead, epidemic obesity and diabetes, how about we just leave water alone, instead of using it as a delivery system for sugar no one needs?" Vitamins, he said, are better obtained from food or even a calorie-free supplement.

Glaceau responded by saying, "Artificial sweeteners don't work, and may in fact increase the incidence of obesity. What does work is an all-natural, low-calorie approach, like Vitamin Water."

The Winners

Plain Old Water

Zero calories.

Katz says there's no contest: Unless you're a true high-performance athlete who is losing electrolytes that can't be replaced with food, water is the way to hydrate.

Polar Fruit Flavored Mineral Water

Zero calories.

Contains carbonated water and natural fruit flavorings. Katz's recommendation for people who want something more interesting than water, without the superfluous calories, sugar and electrolytes.

Natural Fruit Juices

Calories, sugar, sodium and vitamin content will vary.

Katz says when you do want a drink that provides calories, energy, nutrients and something to satisfy your sweet tooth, choose an all-natural juice like orange or apple.

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