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Posted on May 15, 2012 by Christine Crosby in Child Safety

Kids’ Sports Drinks and Your Wallet

Sports drinks are very popular today, especially with your grandchildren. One of the reasons is they taste good. Under certain circumstances they can be a beneficial choice but they can also be hard on your wallet.

Sports drinks are primarily a combination of water, some carbohydrate (sugar) – for energy and a tiny bit of sodium and potassium – two electrolytes lost when sweating a lot. Manufacturers add flavor and color to attract buyers; sugar and flavoring make your grandkids want to drink more.

The popularity of sports drinks, however, results in reduced consumption of more healthful beverages (such as drinking water or low fat milk) among youth. The extra calories from sugar in sports drinks are shown to increase childhood overweight and obesity.

If a teen engages in team sports or other physical activities for less than an hour, experts say that plain cool water is all that is needed as a replacement fluid. Water is absorbed more rapidly than any other liquid.

The recommended practice for ample fluid replacement is:

►        Drink up to 2 cups cool (40˚ to 50˚) water about 2 hours before competition or training.

►        Drink 1 to 2 cups of water 15 minutes before the event.

►        Drink 4 to 6 oz (1/2 to 3/4 cup) of cool water every 10 to 15 minutes during heavy exercise, practice or competition.

Sports drinks generally can be a better choice for exercise lasting for more than an hour or high-energy output sports such as soccer, cycling, tennis, basketball, etc.

Drinks with added  carbohydrates can keep your grandchild from feeling tired in the middle of a 2 to 3 hour practice or game and improve performance. More than an 8 percent carbohydrate concentration in these drinks is difficult for the stomach and intestines to absorb during exercise and can cause stomachaches.

The relative high cost of sports drinks (as measured by cost per ounce) can be avoided by making the drink at home. Most “convenience” stores sell sports drinks for $.99 to $1.39. The product may sell in a grocery store for slightly less. But, a similar beverage with the resulting benefits can be made at home for just pennies!

Juices, such as apple, orange, or grape, are an excellent base for sports drinks since they contain both glucose and fructose sugars. Fructose is the naturally occurring sugar in all fruits. Sugars provide quick energy needed during extended competition.

The following recipes have all the benefits of a commercially produced sports drink:

Recipe #1 (Cost: only pennies)

►        3 tablespoons of orange juice OR 6 tablespoons of lemon juice

►        3 tablespoons of table sugar

►        3 pinches of sea salt

►        20 ounces of cold water

Recipe #2 (Cost: 40-50% less than commercial products):

►        1/2 of a 12 oz can of frozen orange juice or any frozen juice concentrate your child likes best

►        2 tablespoons lemon juice

►        1 tablespoon lime juice

►        3/4 teaspoon sea salt

►        Water to make 2 liters

The primary cost of the second recipe is for the frozen juice concentrate and other juices which calculate to about $1.60. Compare this total to a 2 liter bottle of a name brand sports drink costing at least $2.50 and you’ll see how this thrifty and simple change of habit will save dollars, especially if there is more than one sports-minded child in your family.

These simple homemade sports drinks and tips for buying them can help you in knowing that you are following the recommended guidelines provided by experts for keeping the dangers of dehydration at bay for your grandchildren while playing sports under the hot spring and summer sun.

For More Info:

Kids Health – Sports and Energy Drinks


The Cleveland Clinic – Sports Drinks are Usually Unnecessary for Kids


Video – Sports Drinks Can Leave Kids Sidelined


Janice Wade-Miller serves as a nutrition educator for The Children’s Campaign. She earned her master’s degree in food and nutrition from Florida State University. In her role as a health educator, she has assisted all age groups, from young children to senior citizens. Her email address is jmiller@iamforkids.org

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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