Can Sport Drinks Cause Dehydration and Weight Gain

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/18/2024

Many fitness enthusiasts consider only the benefits of sports drinks. This is because the industry’s leading sports drinks are often marketed as essential for hydration and performance, but in reality the drinks can contribute to unwanted weight gain due to their high sugar content.

Explore how the added sugars in sports drinks can lead to dehydration rather than prevent it and compare their sugar levels with those of standard sodas.

Learn about the impact of sports drinks on essential minerals like potassium, magnesium & chromium that are vital for athletes.

The Hidden Sugar Content in Sports Drinks

Many instinctively reach for sports drinks when replenishing lost fluids after a workout. These beverages are marketed as healthy options that can help restore electrolytes and keep you hydrated.

However, most consumers fail to realize the shocking amount of sugar these drinks contain.

Understanding the Role of Sugar in Dehydration

Sugar may seem like an unlikely culprit when discussing dehydration, but its role is significant. Consuming high-sugar beverages can lead to dehydration, as they cause your body to lose essential minerals faster than water or other low-sugar alternatives.

This process occurs because sugars increase urine output, which results in a loss of vital minerals from your body.

Comparing the Sugar Content in Popular Sports Drinks and Sodas

To put things into perspective, let's compare some popular sports drinks with sodas - often criticized for their high sugar content. A 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade contains 36 grams of sugar, while Coca-Cola has about 44 per serving size - a noteworthy difference.

Research suggests that such excessive intake could potentially lead not only to weight gain but also to increased risk for type II diabetes and heart disease, among others.

This comparison isn't meant to demonize sports drinks; they serve a purpose, especially for athletes who engage in prolonged, intense workouts where quick energy replacement becomes crucial.

But resorting frequently to these sugary solutions might be counterproductive, considering the potential health risks involved if you're hitting the gym casually or doing moderate exercises at home.

Therefore, before grabbing any drink post-workout, it's essential to check labels carefully and fully understand what exactly goes inside our bodies.

Runner drinking a sports drink

How Sports Drinks Mess with Your Insulin Levels

If you're a fitness junkie, you might guzzle down a sports drink after a workout. But these sugary drinks could be doing more harm than good.

Turns out, these drinks packed with sugar can cause your insulin levels to surge, causing fat storage and ruining your weight-loss efforts.

The Skinny on Insulin Spikes and Weight Gain

Insulin, a hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, is essential to our bodies. When we consume sugary drinks, our insulin levels rise rapidly, prompting cells to convert the excess glucose into fat rather than use it for energy.

  • Sugary sports drinks: These cause blood sugar to spike and crash, leaving you tired and hungry in no time.

  • Fat burning: High insulin levels block other hormones that promote fat burning, so all that exercise you did? It's basically canceled out if you refuel with sugary sports drinks.

Why Low-Sugar or No-Sugar Alternatives Are the Way to Go

Instead of reaching for those traditional sports drinks, choose healthier choices like water or low-sugar options.

Research indicates that opting for water or low-sugar options instead of standard sports drinks can help avoid spikes in insulin and provide hydration without contributing extra calories to one's diet.

A study published on PubMed Central found that water is just as adequate at rehydrating your body as most commercial sports drinks.

Plus, research from the PLOS ONE journal suggests that low-calorie sweetened beverages can help with weight loss during a behavioral weight loss program. Opt for a natural hydrating solution instead of sugary drinks for your next workout.

Remember, staying hydrated is crucial, especially when you're breaking a sweat. However, not all hydration sources are created equal.

Before you pick up any liquid refreshment, whether pre-exercise, during the activity, or post-workout, make sure to comprehend its dietary worth and how it could affect your well-being objectives - particularly regarding keeping a sound body weight and general prosperity.

Always keep an eye out for hidden sugars, as they are not helpful to consume after a workout and will hinder the progress of weight loss.

Energy Crashes Caused by Sports Drinks

The sugary sips in sports drinks can lead to weight gain and energy crashes. These drinks cause blood sugar levels to go on a rollercoaster ride, leaving you feeling drained and defeated during workouts.

Understanding the Sugar Rollercoaster

Sugary sports drinks quickly spiking your blood sugar levels. This leads to blood sugar crashes, where your body will feel sluggish and tired.

Avoiding these pitfalls means understanding the science behind insulin spikes and making smarter choices about what we drink during physical activity.

Impact on Essential Minerals

Sports drinks are quick and convenient but could ruin your mineral balance. Let's dive into how they effect vital minerals like potassium, magnesium, and chromium.

The importance of potassium, magnesium & chromium for athletes

  • Potassium keeps your heart happy and your blood pressure in check.

  • Magnesium helps your muscles contract and relax and gives you energy.

  • Chromium regulates your metabolism and insulin action.

Athletes need more of these minerals due to intense training. Research shows that magnesium can boost performance by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.

How sport-drinks hurt mineral balance

Sports drinks are loaded with sugar, which makes you pee more and lose potassium, magnesium, and chromium. It is not suitable for your heart, muscles, or metabolism.

  • Potassium: Sugar overload leads to lower levels, affecting your heart health.

  • Magnesium: Excessive sugar hinders absorption, compromising muscle function.

  • Chromium: Sugar messes with insulin sensitivity, throwing off metabolism.

Watch your diet and avoid sugary sports drinks to keep your body in shape.

Healthier Alternatives To Traditional Sports Drinks

Skip the sugary sports drinks and opt for healthier alternatives. Stay hydrated without the unnecessary calories or potential health issues from excessive sugar.

Water vs Traditional Sports Drinks: Benefits & Drawbacks

Water is the straightforward choice - calorie-free, hydrating, and without high sugar adverse effects. But it doesn't replace lost electrolytes during intense workouts.

Sports drinks, while made for athletes, can lead to weight gain and health issues due to their high sugar content.

A study found that sweetened beverages increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Keto-Friendly Hydrating Solutions

Try keto-friendly sports drink alternatives for hydration and electrolyte replacement without added sugars. They have essential minerals without the harmful stuff, perfect for low-carb diets like keto.

  • Keto Electrolyte Drops: Concentrated mineral sources without artificial ingredients or sweeteners. Add a few drops to your water bottle for balanced minerals and low carbs.

  • Keto Powders: Mix these powders with water for a refreshing beverage packed with nutrients and no unwanted sugars. Great for preventing "Keto flu" symptoms during ketosis.

In conclusion, choose natural over processed when it comes to your fitness goals - losing weight, building muscle, or staying healthy. Staying hydrated will also help prevent cramps while working out, which is common for many starting their fitness journey.

Apple cider vinegar and baking soda

Hydration, ACV, and Leg Cramps.

While staying hydrated is one way to prevent leg cramps, apple cider vinegar offers another natural solution for cramp issues.

The explanation for the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar in relieving leg cramps is not yet fully understood. While many individuals have reported experiencing relief from leg cramps after using apple cider vinegar, scientific research on this topic is limited.

Leg cramps can be caused by muscle fatigue, dehydration, or mineral imbalances. Apple cider vinegar contains small amounts of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, essential minerals for muscle function. 

It is believed that these minerals may play a role in alleviating leg cramps. However, further studies are needed to understand how apple cider vinegar explicitly targets leg cramp relief.

If you regularly experience leg cramps, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and personalized treatment options.


In conclusion, while sports drinks are often seen as a quick fix for hydration post-workout, their high sugar content can lead to weight gain, energy crashes, and dehydration.

Opting for low-sugar or sugar-free alternatives, such as water or keto-friendly options, is essential for supporting our health goals and avoiding the negative effects of added sugars.

By prioritizing natural, nutrient-rich beverages, we can better support our fitness endeavors and overall well-being.

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