Take That, Gatorade!

Earlier this summer during my ‘E’ Coaching License class, the instructor touched on proper hydration and asked ‘What is the best thing to re-hydrate a player’. About half said water and the rest said Gatorade. The instructor felt water was better and that one of the key benefits about Gatorade – the extra potassium, could be covered by having a player eat a banana after the match (~400mg of potassium in a banana vs 30mg in 8oz of Gatorade). Interesting. Of course US Youth Soccer suggests sports drinks over water for one very important reason. The kids tend to drink more fluids during activity when its Gatorade (i.e. sweet) vs. water. So regardless of all the research on both sides as to what is better or worse (not opening THAT can ‘o worms), the goal of keeping kids properly hydrated wins out.

But I digress. In my rambling around the net, I found a new post by The Suburban Soccer Mom who has discovered a new secret weapon for energizing her young soccer player. Grape Kool-Aid.

So, we’re practicing soccer and Thing Two has HAD it. He’s dragging and he’s whining and I am trying to get him to get a little animated, so for his drink I mix him up a grape Kool aid. He drank the whole thing in 20 seconds and RAN out to the field and scored two goals within three minutes.

The same thing happened last year, only it was Capri Sun. Thing Two would play hard, and come back dying, and I’d give him his Capri Sun, and he’d spring right up and get in there. It was almost comical, watching the change the sugar made in him.

So this year’s (slightly more sugary) secret weapon? Grape Kool Aid. Soccer players, beware!

I’ll admit – during our end of season tournament I put Gatorade in the drink cooler instead of water. The kids loved it. But if the chips are down and we’re behind by a goal, I just might have to toss in some grape Kool-Aid instead! Or just give them those powdered sugar stick things. ZING!

UPDATE: I probably was a bit too subtle, but, the last part of this about the Kool-Aid is meant to be humorous, not a suggestion for a new sports drink :)

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  1. I’ve tried lots of different sports drinks in my endurance bike riding. I found that if I drink too much of a high-carb drink like gatorade or powerade, that over the course of a 3-5 hour bike ride, I get a very heavy, almost nausea feeling in my stomach from so much sugars. I’ve now found that mixing a water bottle half-and-half with water is a better way for me to go.

    Also, I’ve read a lot of reports of the detrimental effects of sports drinks on tooth enamel. I think dentists are recommending anyone that regularly drinks sports drinks chase it with water to rinse as much of the high-sugar drinks off your teeth.

    I carry both sports drinks and straight water on my bike rides.

  2. I tend to switch back and forth. I’ll often drink water during exercise and then grab some Gatorade afterwards. But it varies. I know I drag water to all my team’s practices and games except for Gatorade occasionally during things like tournaments, etc.

    And lest anyone think I was somehow advocating sugary drinks like Kool-Aid for young players, that part of the post was humorous, not serious :)

  3. US Youth Soccer suggests sports drinks over water…

    I’m a little bit appalled by this, perhaps in part because back when I played youth soccer (no, I’m not too senile to remember, yet) I used to hate it when they brought gatorade instead of water to the games. When I’m running around and working up that tremendous thirst, I want water, and I want it now – sugary drinks, even sports drinks, are unpleasant and can even make the thirst worse. I would hope at the very least that this would not be an either-or thing and that coaches/parents would have perhaps water AND a sports drink available if they must use something besides water. I mean, there are so many flavors of gatorade now, too – what if you don’t like the one they picked? Then you’re really screwed.

    What’s with kids not being willing to drink water though? That’s… disturbing on a lot of levels. Is is true? Is it widespread? If so, WTF is up with that?

  4. I don’t think that it is kids not drinking water, its that they don’t drink enough fluids period. So overall kids are likely to drink MORE fluid when it is something like Gatorade vs water, thus they get more hydration. They still drink water, just not as much/enough.

    And yes, some kids don’t like Gatorade – I had two kids on my team that didn’t but they always brought their own water anyway so it was covered. What I need to grab is one of those double container coolers that have two sections with a spout for each – one for water and one for Gatorade (for the rare match where I’ll bring Gatorade instead of just water) Course now that I want one, I can’t find the darn things anywhere – they used to be everywhere – one side was blue, the other red.

  5. Great site! Actually as a personal trainer, I have studied through blinidng amounts of scientific research that entails that the competitive athlete should really look toward Gatorade as a way of replenishing both potassium and carbohydrates before, during and after a game. The Bannana is good after a game (even better is cherries, or grapes) to help replenish glycogen stores and help fuel muscle growth after intense activity.

    It really depends on the level of play. I know at a competitive level, 1 week of carb loading and proper hydration, before, during and after a match are fantastic ways of increasing performance. Why does an ATHLETE (junior included) need sports drinks? Because of the sodium and potassium levels that are depleted during exercise (lost through sweat). The added carbohydrates help maximize performance also.

    I’m starting to sound like a Gatorade Sales Rep. I’m not advocating either/or (water is awesome too). I’m simply implying that for some further knowledge about what is best for your child, sift through some scientific journals on the web from time to time and get an understanding about what real tests and real results indicate in regards to fluid replenishment for kids.

  6. Gatorade rehydrates better than plain water, this has been proven.

    Grape Kool-Aid? Why not just give the kids sugar water? Same effect.