Sports + Energy Drinks
Sports + Energy Drinks

Kids Don't Need 'em

Sports and energy drinks have become a huge part of the drinks market in recent years, and kids and teenagers aren't immune to commercials showing superstar athletes gulping down technicolor liquids or advertisements claiming that energy drinks can "give you wings."

Sports and energy drinks have become familiar sights on soccer fields and baseball diamonds, at track meets and swimming competitions. Kids and teenagers make up a big portion of the market for these drinks. But do they really need them?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded that they don't1. Sports drinks are made primarily of water, carbohydrates (sugar) and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) which are included to replace what is lost in sweat. But sports drinks are high in sugar, giving kids and teenagers extra calories which can put them at risk for becoming overweight, even if they're active. Unless your child or teenager is doing hard physical activity for more than an hour, chances are water is more than adequate for re-hydration. The vitamins and minerals that sports drinks provide are abundant in a healthy diet, so as long as your child eats from all five food groups every day, getting plenty of milk, cheese and yogurt, meat or beans, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, they won't miss what sports drinks have to offer.

The AAP came out even more strongly against energy drinks2 which, unlike most sports drinks, contain caffeine and other stimulating substances. The AAP reported that energy drinks "have no place in the diet of children and adolescents1." Energy drinks, too, have a lot of extra calories from sugar, and their stimulating ingredients can cause heart rhythm irregularities.

If you think your child needs a little more nourishment on the field than water has to offer, consider low-fat milk or chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink. Milk offers high-quality protein to repair muscle after activity, calcium for strong bones, some of those electrolytes, like potassium, vitamins A and D, fluid for rehydration and less added sugar than sports drinks3.

For more healthy drink ideas, check out this Tip Sheet Reach for a Healthy Beverage, which lists the drinks should drink more of (and less of) for great hydration and great health.



1. Committee on Nutrition and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Sports drinks and energy drinks for children and adolescents: are they appropriate? Pediatrics. 2011 Jun;127(6):1182-9. 

2. Campbell B, Wilborn C, La Bounty P, Taylor L, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: energy drinks. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Jan3;10(1):1

3. Karp JR, Johnston JD, Tecklenburg S, Mickleborough TD, Fly AD, Stager JM. Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Feb;16(1):78-91.


Balanced Nurition for Your Child