Sports drinks review and compare

We compared 14 brands of sports drink from supermarkets, servos and convenience stores to give you the facts.
Learn more
  • Updated:7 Aug 2008

04.Not for kids

Sports drinks are promoted as better than water for young kids.

Gatorade argues that children often arrive at sports under-hydrated and their product encourages kids to drink more than if they were only offered water. (And there’s independent evidence to support this.)

  • But sports drinks are acidic and can erode dental enamel. 
  • And the salt in sports drinks is even more undesirable for children than it is for adults because their maximum recommended intake is less (depending on age).

Experts such as Professor Louise Baur, a paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and director of the University of Sydney’s NSW Centre for Overweight and Obesity, say sports drinks are unnecessary for children and adolescents, and their consumption is part of the growing childhood obesity problem. “If kids are thirsty, they’ll drink water if water is provided.”

What about hangovers?

Many believe that a hangover is caused by dehydration so not surprisingly sports drinks are recommended as a sure-fire cure. According to Staminade, “Faster rehydration leads to faster recovery from all activities — from hangovers to marathons.”

But the latest research suggests this isn’t true for hangovers. The miseries of a hangover are more likely caused by effects of alcohol on the immune system. There’s really nothing you can do for a hangover except take a painkiller for the headache.

Energy drinks  and sports drinks — not the same thing

Energy drinks such as Red Bull and V contain caffeine. There’s good evidence that caffeine enhances sports performance for elite athletes, but not for the average runner or cyclist.

Energy drinks usually contain more sugar than sports drinks (we’ve included Red Bull in the table for comparison). A high sugar concentration can slow absorption of water into the body making these drinks definitely unsuitable for rehydration when you’re exercising. Their caffeine makes them unsuitable for children.


Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.