If you’ve ever looked at a fluorescent colored so-called “sports drink” (i.e. Gatorade, Powerade and all the wannabes in the category) and wondered if it could possibly quality as a natural, healthy beverage, we now know the answer: No, it’s not. Don’t take my word for it, here’s an exhaustive review of the relevant science by Deborah Cohen in the BMJ:
Prehydrate; drink ahead of thirst; train your gut to tolerate more fluid; your brain doesn’t know you’re thirsty—the public and athletes alike are bombarded with messages about what they should drink, and when, during exercise. But these drinking dogmas are relatively new. In the 1970s, marathon runners were discouraged from drinking fluids for fear that it would slow them down, says Professor Tim Noakes, Discovery health chair of exercise and sports science at Cape Town University. At the first New York marathon in 1970, there was little discussion about the role of hydration—it was thought to have little scientific value.