For the longest time, our culture has told us that sports drinks are the key to ruling your workout. Unfortunately, reality would show some people that they had been tricked. In fact, what a lot of sports drinks ended up doing was simply dumping sugar right into the body.

Why is sugar so bad?

Our bodies need sugar, right? So why is it so bad for you?

In short, the reason is that sugar provides energy, but sugar is very high in calories. And it tastes amazing. If a person has an extremely active lifestyle, such as soldiers, lumberjacks, construction workers, etc, replenishing sugar is definitely a need throughout the day. But if you’re not putting in at least a couple of hours of effort, sugary sports drinks will end up just wrecking your diet, your insulin levels, and even your skin.

What should I drink instead?

People always groan and roll their eyes when I say this, but WATER is what you need. Again, once you’ve started hitting the two hour mark of a rather involved exercise session, then the electrolyte component of the sports drink comes into play. But the overwhelming majority of people who consume sports drinks do not workout that much. But here are some great (and healthy!) alternatives to sugary sports drinks. These are best for those of us who are working out a normal amount, 30 minutes 3 times a week.

1. Water

Yes, I’m saying it again. It’s JUST that important! Drinking water has a crazy number of health benefits. Every system in your body runs off of water, so if you’re ever less hydrated than you should be, you will likely have an increase in headaches, less focus and more exhaustion throughout your day. If you find it difficult to get sufficient amounts of water, then try adding some fruit to it. Letting lemon slices or some strawberries into your water bottle can add a great flavor component without adding calories.

2. Unsweetened Iced Tea

Being in Atlanta, we’re in the heart of the South. Sweet tea is everywhere and it can tend to be an exercise in how much sugar you can cram into a pitcher of tea. Occasionally, this beverage is understandable, but for the most part it should be avoided. Unsweetened ice tea, however, will provide a nice, crisp, refreshing drink. Some black teas even have a little bit of a caffeine for a nice post-workout pick-me-up.

3. Coconut Water

It might seem strange, but coconut water is delicious and refreshing. Although packaged coconut water can have a slightly sour flavor, its natural enzymes and sugars help you to recover from your workout in a way that isn’t just pouring high-fructose corn syrup own your throat. Coconut water is an awesome way to really get the most out of your hydration without sacrificing flavor. It’s delicious!

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