All beverage choices matter and contribute to total calorie intake and hydration.
Focusing on nutrient-rich beverages can help build healthy eating patterns.
Dairy milk plays an important role in supporting health throughout childhood and adolescence. With the exception of fortified soy beverage, drinks made with almonds and other nuts, rice, or coconuts often contain little to no protein and lack other key nutrients important to support optimal growth. For example, dairy milk (including lactose-free dairy milk) has the most balanced distribution of energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat1; provides hydration; and contains many of the nutrients of concern in the American diet, including calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.
All milk contains a unique combination of key nutrients important for children’s growth and development. Chocolate milk has between 8 and 12 additional grams of sugar added.2 Research shows that school-aged children who drink flavored milk do not eat more added sugars compared to children who do not drink milk.3 When teaching nutrition, help students look at their food choices and identify “extras” they can trade up for more nutritious foods and beverages from the food groups.
Good sports nutrition, like all good nutrition, starts with a balanced diet that includes food from all the food groups: Dairy; Vegetables; Fruits; Grains; Protein. The American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that children don’t need sports and energy drinks to replace electrolytes lost in sweat. These beverages offer a lot of sugar with few nutrients. Unless children are doing hard physical activity for more than an hour, water is usually adequate for hydration.