Sports drinks and energy drinks look similar for us. They are both sweet and tasty. It‘s believed that both drinks can improve performance in sports as the nutrition included will improve the endurance and strength of the player. Also, it helps recovery after exercising.

In common sense, they’re all helpful and healthy drinks when it comes to exercise and recovery. However, only a few realize that they’re actually not friendly to specific groups of people,  especially kids.

Parents, you can drink any of the drinks as they fit your grown-up body well enough. But for young and fragile children, the content of the drinks may get them uncomfortable and even sick. Why is that? And can your child still drink sports or energy drinks? Today, we will find out.

What Are Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks

Sports drinks are also referred to as electrolyte drinks. It’s a kind of beverage that’s designed to help athletes recover from dehydration and exhaustion with vitamins and electrolytes.

  • Whilst exercising, the human body will sweat to lower body temperature. And the sweat we drip contains plenty of minerals especially sodium(or salt as we commonly know) and potassium.

Tip: Does Vitaminwater have electrolytes?

Yes, Vitaminwater has electrolytes. Check the ingredient list of Vitaminwater. You will find several minerals and vitamins. Those are what we call electrolytes.

Though people always confuse energy drinks with sports drinks, they’re actually very different.

Energy drinks are a type of beverage that contain stimulant compounds, caffeine usually. Because of this, energy drinks will keep people mentally and physically active, which is different from sports drinks which can only provide physical motivation.

FAQ: What is caffeine

Caffeine is a common central nervous system stimulant that can be found in natural coffee and tea, the main reason why these two drinks can make people feel energetic.

As for other ingredients, energy drinks may or may not contain sugar, minerals (mostly not), vitamins (mostly not), taurine, and amino acids. As you can see, the essential component of energy drinks is the stimulant. Since it’s mostly caffeine, we may also call these drinks caffeine drinks.

Are Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks Good for Kids

To be honest, both drinks are not 100% suitable for kids.

Risks of Obesity and Diabetes

Sports and energy drinks taste sweet, that’s the undisputed common sense.

To make the drinks more popular and suit people’s tastes, manufacturers add a large amount of sugar, usually around 15% to 25% of the drinks. That means a 16 oz drink contains at least 1.6 oz of sugar and has about 180 calories (280 cal max) relatively.

And how long does it take to burn off 180 calories? 50 minutes for walking or 25 minutes for jogging.

In this case, you don’t need to worry if your child loves sports and continues to work out every day or week. Sports drinks and energy drinks will do no harm but are a perfect aid. The calories will be burnt completely.

Kid Drinking Sports Drinks

However, if your child does not have enough exercise, the high sugar content will bring a heavy burden to your child –  fat. While drinking sports drinks become a daily activity, he/she will start to gain weight in a negative way. And without restraint, obesity and even diabetes will knock on the door.

Potential Kidney Failure for Drinking Sports Drinks

Sports drinks contain around 1% sodium to help the human body to replenish the lost minerals quickly due to sweating. It may seem that 1% is such a tiny number and it means nothing. It’s wrong, however.

According to FDA, the daily suggested sodium intake for kids varies based on their ages:

  • Ages 3 and younger: Less than 1.3g (1/22 oz)
  • Ages 4-8: Less than 1.5g(1/20 oz)
  • Ages 9-13: Less than 1.8g(1/16)
  • Ages 14-18: Less than 2.3g (1/12 oz)

Kids cannot handle too much sodium simply because of their immature kidneys. You’d better keep your child’s sodium intake below the suggested numbers most of the time if you don’t your child to suffer from kidney issues at a young age.

Sports Drinks Brands

If your child sweats a little and sodium in the body is not released, and at the same time, the sodium (sports drinks) intake increases, your child’s body will contain too many more minerals than the kidney can metabolize. The organ will be damaged. If the situation is not eased, the chance of kidney failure will increase.

Heart complications Related to Energy Drinks

Caffeine drinks or energy drinks are considered the helper of people who stay up or need to have physical training. The caffeine keeps your brain stimulated and makes you less likely to get tired and sleepy. Yet, it’s positive when you take in the proper amount in a day.

Once you ingest an excessive amount of caffeine, it will give very high pressure to your heart and cause heart complications like irregular heartbeat and heart failure. The situation will be much worse for young and immature kid as their heart is still weak. Symptoms will be a lot more intense when they happen to a child.

Kid Has Heart Problem

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Federation of State High School Associations suggest that kids and teenagers, even young athletes, should not use energy drinks for hydration and recovery. Each year, thousands of adolescents aged from 11 to 17 are sent to the hospital due to the side effects of drinking energy drinks. In 2011, the number was 1,499, according to CDC.

Tip: Does Gatorade have caffeine

No, Gatorade makes no energy drinks. So, all of their products don’t have caffeine. All you can find in its ingredients are minerals, sugar, water, some vitamins, and some other additives.

Insomnia Caused By Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that keeps people awake.

If your child’s training is not intense enough and caffeine is not metabolized completely, he/she will feel energetic at bedtime. No matter how hard he/she tries, it’s still hard to fall asleep. That’s because your central nervous system is under the impact of caffeine, and melatonin, a hormone that helps people sleep, will be repressed.

As a result, your child will lose sleep that night.

Tip: How long does an energy drink last

The caffeine in energy drinks can keep us active for a few hours, normally, 5 to 10 hours depending on your metabolism system.

If you’re a grown-up, a can of energy drinks (250ml or  8 oz) will likely keep you energetic for at least 8 hours if you don’t undergo intense exercise. The time will be shortened if hours of physical training are conducted.

Also, for children, energy drinks will last longer. That’s because the child has weak metabolism. They need more time to consume the ingested caffeine.

Are Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks Necessary

No, none of these drinks are necessary. They are helpful but never essential.

These drinks can help people recover better from dehydration and may improve their competitive ability. But that’s more for professional players. To players who need to go through harsh training and competing, even 1% of aid makes a difference. However, for kids, such aid means nearly nothing.

For children who lost a lot of water, vitamins, and minerals after exercising, the best drink they should have is always water. Water can keep them hydrated when your child drinks it wisely.

  • Half an hour before the exercise: drink 5 oz of water;
  • Within the exercise: have some sips every 15 or 20 minutes;
  • After the game: drink slowly, repeatedly, and continuously.

Also, to replenish vitamins and minerals, fruits like bananas will be the kind of aid.

How to Make Healthy Electrolyte Water For Your Child At Home

Though water is all your child needs. You can still prepare some electrolyte water for them at home. We can make some with basic materials.

Self Made Sports Drinks

First of all, prepare some water, for sure.

  • You can use mineral water instead of tap water or pure water. Minerals are included and will be helpful to relieve dehydration.

Then, we need lemons to provide vitamins.

  • The juice of orange, lime, apple, or pineapple will be of same help as well. The amount? Just 5% of the water’s weight. For 10 ounces of water, prepare ½ ounce of fruit juice.

Next will be sodium, the most important ingredient.

  • We can just add salt. It’s the easiest one to get, right? But pay attention to the amount – just 1% or 0.5% of the water’s amount. Use a scale to do the accurate measure.

Lastly, to make the drink tasty and flavourful, you can add some sugar.

  • Just don’t add too much, 5% of the water’s weight will be the maximum. Or, you can buy some sugar-free flavored syrups or other artificial sweeteners. It depends on your child’s preference.