Whether or not your sports drink acts more as a hangover cure than a workout buddy, the unnaturally bright beverages are total health imposters in disguise!
While the heavily marketed beverages do in fact contain the electrolytes and water needed after a strenuous workout, many (ahem, Gatorade) pack in a hearty helping of calories and more than double your daily recommended amount of sugar!
And instead of fueling your spinning sesh, these insidious calorie bombs can actually undo all your hard work. What’s more, many of these thirst-quenchers are packed with toxic additives like wood rosin and artificial dyes, which are linked to cancer and hyperactivity in children. Instead of chugging a bottle chock full of bogus claims, read on to find out exactly which sports drinks do as they declare.
1. ZICO COCONUT WATER
Nutrition (per 11.2 fl oz carton): 60 calories, 0 g fat, 90 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (0 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 0 g protein
Because It Contains: electrolytes, more potassium than a banana
Ditch the artificially dyed sports drinks after your next workout for coconut water, which only turns pink sometimes because of natural processes. That’s part of what we love about Zico — it’s natural, 100 percent coconut water full of potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and sodium without any added ingredients or sugars. The company claims “It’s what inside that counts,” and we couldn’t agree more, especially when it comes to refueling your body. Lucky for us, coconut water is both delicious and effective.
2. HORIZON ORGANIC LOW FAT CHOCOLATE MILK
Nutrition (per 8 oz box): 150 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (0 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 8 g protein
Because It Contains: more electrolytes and potassium than water and sports drinks
If you used to love drinking chocolate milk as a kid, you shouldn’t have stopped. This blast from the past has more to offer than just a sweet, creamy taste. Turns out it’s great for ending a workout as well, partly due to its calcium content — 30 percent of your recommended daily value — which can hinder fat storage in your body. It also has a balance of carbs, protein, and fat levels that can help you regain energy, build muscle, and even perform better in future workouts.
3. ALOHA ORGANIC PROTEIN POWDER
Nutrition (per 2 scoops, vanilla): 150 calories, 4.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 18 g protein
Because It Contains: omega-3s, iron, and magnesium
If you were loving that Zico coconut water, but craving protein, look no further. Throw some of that into a blender along with Aloha Organic Protein Powder, peanut butter, and a banana, and you’ve got a delicious shake that hits all the bases. In general, protein shakes are great for repairing muscles after a workout, but this organic brand, in particular, is plant-based with protein from peas, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds.
4. EBOOST NATURAL ORANGE
Nutrition (per 5.4 g packet): 5 calories, 0 g fat, 45 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g protein
Because It Contains: electrolytes, antioxidants, and vitamins
Combining 12 ounces of water with this powder packet may create a bright orange drink reminiscent of the Gatorade we’ve been telling you to dump, but EBoost is much different, trust us. The fact that it doesn’t have any artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners already puts this fizzy drink a step above regular sports drinks, but it’s got even more to offer. With more than 100 percent of your recommended daily value of essentials like vitamin D, B12, and zinc, plus natural caffeine from green tea and green coffee seed, we dare you to try feeling exhausted and sluggish post-workout with some of this in your system.
5. CHAMELEON COLD-BREW VANILLA COFFEE
Nutrition (per 10 fl oz bottle): 40 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (0 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 0 g protein
Because It Contains: caffeine and sugar
If you aren’t performing as well as you’d like to in the gym, maybe all you need is a little caffeine. A study found that cyclists in an hour-long trial could ride about a mile farther if they took a caffeine supplement, as opposed to a placebo. But that doesn’t mean you should stop at Starbucks on your way to the gym or grab a Monster energy drink. The benefits of most caffeinated beverages are masked by crazy amounts of sugar, so try a cold brew like Chameleon Cold-Brew Vanilla Coffee. It only has 7 grams of organic cane sugar.
6. LIQUID I.V.
Nutrition (per stick dissolved in 16 fl oz water): 45 calories, 0 g fat, 500 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (0 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 0 g protein
Because It Contains: potassium, sodium, and 5 essential vitamins
Remember that hydration we talked about? Yeah, it’s still really important. When your body’s losing more water than it’s taking in, you’re missing out on the opportunity to burn more calories, reduce signs of aging, and increase mental clarity. You’re also leaving yourself susceptible to side effects like headaches, dizziness, and muscle fatigue — but not if you mix Liquid I.V., into your bottled water. This hydration multiplier has three times the amount of electrolytes found in traditional sports drinks and can provide you with the same hydration you’d have gotten from two or even three bottles of water, delivering nutrients into your bloodstream directly.
Nutrition: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g protein
Because It Contains: water!
While all of the drinks we’ve mentioned have their own tastes and nutritional benefits, don’t forget about chugging plain old water. Not only is it zero calories, but drinking from the tap is way cheaper than splurging on other flavored, enhanced drinks. So unless you’re working out intensely for more than an hour, this is the perfect choice when you want to cut back on calories, sugar, or spending.