Can Fitness Drinks Do More Bad Than Good?

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Most fitness drinks are formulated to replenish your body’s electrolytes, vitamins, and carbohydrates after a tough work out.

Yet, many people don’t require the huge amount of sodium, sugar, and other additives in many fitness drinks, even after working out. Because most fitness drinks are marketed as healthy beverages, people trust that when they drink them, they can’t possibly be harming their bodies with an overload of salt and sugar.

Read on to learn more about fitness drinks, and if they can often do more bad than good to your body.

  • Why is Too Much Sodium a Problem?
  • Why is Too Much Sugar a Problem?
  • What other Additives are in Most Fitness Drinks?
  • What are the Alternatives to Fitness Drinks?

Why is Too Much Sodium a Problem?
Though your body requires sodium to recover from electrolyte loss through sweating, too much sodium can cause health problems like high blood pressure. Since 90% of Americans get too much sodium as it is, if you don’t do a lot of strenuous exercise, you should probably avoid most fitness drinks.

For example, if a sports drink contains about 200mg of sodium per serving, which is about 8% of your daily value, this would provide an excellent way to recover from a large amount of sweat loss. For the average person, this much sodium per serving could do more bad than good. This is especially true if you consume fitness drinks regularly, whether you work out or not.

Why is Too Much Sugar a Problem?
According to a recent study, Americans now consume 19% more added sugar in their daily diet than they did in 1970. This added sugar can increase your body fat as well as put you at risk for heart disease due to a high level of blood fats.

Many fitness drinks contain about 42g of sugar per serving. For the average person, the recommended daily value is about 32g, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. While sugars and carbohydrates are necessary when you do a strenuous workout, for the average person, this amount of refined sugar can do a lot more harm than good.

What other Additives are in Most Fitness Drinks?
In addition to lots of salt and sugar, most fitness drinks also contain:

  • Trans fats such as hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils
  • Artificial dyes
  • Sucrose and glucose-fructose syrups
  • Citric acid (preservative)

Your body doesn’t require any of these artificial additives, so unless you are losing a lot of fluids due to extreme sweating or flu-like sickness, it’s best to stick with fitness drink alternatives. Read on to learn more about what these include.

What are the Alternatives to Fitness Drinks?
Simple water can provide necessary hydration for the average person. However, if you’re looking for something that has an electrolyte boost, essential vitamins and minerals and an all natural taste, try coconut water.

Coconut water contains all of the good things about fitness drinks without the added sugars, dyes or trans fats. At just 46 calories per serving, coconut water is also a low calorie, fat-free drink. What leading fitness drink can say that?

What do you drink to recover from a hard workout? Comment below!

59 Responses to “Can Fitness Drinks Do More Bad Than Good?”


    Thanks for that info! I know that water is the “best” beverage for a diet BUT for a hard workout, You really need something that give You a “recovery”! Something natural that give You the extra energy to start again your diary routine! + can be a little boring drink water all the time! and Coconut water sounds great!

  2. Becky says:

    I fully agree that people are drinking waaaay too many sugary water concoctions in an effort to hydrate with something that “tastes good.” They think that they’re being healthy, but they are in fact ingesting so many additives and harmful sugars, that they may as well be drinking soda after their workouts. I tend to be a purist, and drink only water “au naturale.” However, it looks like some healthier alternatives to the standard sugar bombs are starting to surface which is encouraging. I will definitely give Phenom a try! :)

  3. April D says:

    This was interesting to read.I don’t like a lot of the fitness drinks for those reasons. Personally, I do exercise a lot, and only use water during my routine. I have never tried or even known about coconut water and I work right next to a GNC. My favorite pick me up AFTER a good hard workout is a good protein shake. They have worked wonders for me to feel good, and re-energize after a lot of lifting and cardio. I’d love to check out this coconut water!

  4. Jessica H says:

    This is what I thought that they were bad! But, thanks for informing me differently

  5. Mihir says:

    I used to drink the standard gatorade. About 4-5 years ago, I was in Hawaii playing volleyball. We ran out of sports drink and there was a guy selling young coconuts from a stand. He had them in a couple rally large garbage cans filled with ice. So, we bought a few and brought them back to the court. Since that day, I’ve never looked back. I carry coconut water almost everywhere I go (do you think TSA would give me an exemption so I can bring some on those long flights?). But seriously, it’s become kind of an addiction.

    It’s good to see you guys aren’t adding any sugar. I’ve seen a couple other brands that do, and personally, I think it just takes away from the subtle sweetness plain coconut water has.

  6. Jackie Willoughby says:

    I wasn’t raised on sodas, coffee, tea or even any juice therefor I’m strictly a water drinker. Anytime you see me you’ll always find me holding a bottle of water in my grasp. I admit that I get a craving for a new drink, something that isn’t carbonated!!! I too was told to drink chocolate milk after my work outs but I admit I’m not a fan of chocolate either. I get a craving for something flavored but id lkke to know its helpful for me before, during or after my workouts. So after reading about this Phenom Coconut Water I’m very excited to put this to the test. I admit that I’m an avid believer in recycling so my question would be, what material are these bottles?? 

  7. Kimberly C. says:

    I am really glad that I came across this article. I have been working out on a regular basis for awhile now and I only drink water. I cannot stand drinking water but I know that my body needs it. I love the idea of having something to drink that has a taste to it and does not have a high salt count or anything else that my body does not need. Thank you so much for the information!!!

  8. Anna says:

    I usually don’t trust the fitness drinks because I end up feeling sick to my stomach when I drink them. How does the coconut water affect the stomach during work outs? Is it light? Heavy?

  9. rita salazar says:

    ive started working out about 2 months ago, at first i was drinking anything but water after a workout , a friend told me to start drinking a protien shake after each workout for quick recovery .. ive since lost 21 lbs.. and im totally open to try new things.. thanks for the chance to try PHEMON coconut water …

  10. Robin says:

    My daughter participated in sports and I really prefer she drink water over the sugary drinks her friends drink. I’m going to try coconut water and see if she feels better after using. Thank you.

  11. Robert O'Brien says:

    Great article and I agree with it completely. Not to mention that many people drink these “fitness” drinks as a substitute to soda believing it to be healthy, when in reality they’re drinking salt and sugar water.

  12. Joe says:

    I usually just drink plain water during workouts, but coconut water seems like a good alternative. Plus, I love coconut… I bet it’s delicious!

  13. Julie K says:

    My husband is very dedicated when it comes to working out. He does this on a daily basis and always drinks water after the work out. I have never been a fan of the fitness drinks and neither has he. I understand that after a very strenuous workout, you may need some of the ingredients to replenish your body, but I am a full believer that water is the best thing you can drink ANYTIME! I would love to try your coconut water. I may just recommend this to my husband as an alternative to his bottled water. Thank you for your interesting blog about this. I did not know these facts about fitness drinks!

  14. Brooke Kanarek says:

    I always thought that drinks such as vitamin water were ok because they are mostly water, but when I was reading the ingredients the amount of sugar in it is absolutely crazy. I started drinking regular water, but I realized I like flavorful water better. I’ve tasted coconut water before but find it’s to sweet and don’t like it because most of them have a lot of added ingredients. I would love to try this one and see how it compares to the other ones I’ve tasted. I wonder if it’ll finally be the taste that I like

  15. Brooke Kanarek says:

    In addition, I’m slightly overweight and if this drink is healthy it might encourage me more to drink it. As well as helping me stay healthy and giving me the nutrients my body needs

  16. zulm zermeno says:

    thank you! this article was very informative. I strongly belive that water is best but if you like fitness drinks is best to drink them in moderation.

  17. paula hendrix says:

    I am starting to get into fitness and I would like to get a sample of this water. I have heard about this water and would really like to try it. My address is 4200 S. Tropical Trail Merritt Island, Fl. 32952.
    Thank you in advance,

  18. MIKE D says:

    I try not to drink too much high sugar or carb products

  19. Dawn Day says:

    I really didn’t know that they weren’t the best choice. We are always told that fitness drinks are the best option to replenish when you are sick or out in the heat a lot. I can;t drink too many soda because of my surgery but the doctor told me to drink sports drinks instead. I certainly don’t need the extra sugar added in them. I might as well be drinking soda based on the information you have provided. I am certainly going to have to rethink what I drink now.

  20. Helena Lee says:

    Sampled array of “fitness drinks” such as Monster, Rockstar, VitaminWater, Amp, Sobe, etc. — those vitamin/nutrient-infused drinks. Thought these cure lethargy, mood, lackluster health — wrong! Became irritable, gittery, hyper, dehydrated, almost purple-sick in the face! Health data suggests high caffeine, artifical flavors/colors, trans fats, sodium as causes. I agree with Phenom that such drinks are OK for the really serious athelete (used to run 10+ miles per week), but to the moderate enthusiast, coconut water is a great solution.

  21. Tina Yim-Cheung says:

    I am not much into the sports drinks, but am looking for a natural way to rehydrate; this sounds like a good option,

  22. John Strauch says:

    That was a very interesting article, thanks for the good read!

  23. Susan Brannagan says:

    I own a Curves for Women. I never hear of coconut water before this article. I am always looking for helpful information regarding health and nutrition for my members. I would love to try this product. If you have any literature or samples to pass along to my member, I’m sure it would be greatly appreciated.

  24. Brenda says:

    This product sounds perfect for me. I was drinking a Sports Drink every day and went to the doctor for my blood work. He told me to quit because my Sodium and Potassium were too high. I can’t wait to try your Coconut water!! Thanks so much!

  25. Tyler L. says:

    Very informative! I will be using this information for an upcoming talk with my baseball team.

  26. Keisha Maniger says:

    I think they can do some good if they can do away with most of the sugar and still have a good taste. I know the MiO stuff that just came out isn’t for replenishing after working out but if they can incorporate that and add what the body needs, I think it would make a great sports drink.

  27. Lia says:

    What about the low-calorie, sugar free fitness drinks? Some examples off the top of my heat are Propel, Vitamin Water Zero, Powerade Zero, and Zip Fizz. Would you classify these along with Coconut Water, or are there additional benefits to drinking Coconut Water that these drinks do not have?

  28. Andrea Taylor says:

    This article was very informative! I guess I fall under the category of people who believe a sports drink is healthy because they claim to be. I am a mother of 3 children, all who play sports and consume a lot of sports drinks. I will definitely be changing that because their little bodies definitely don’t need all the sodium and sugar from these drinks!

  29. mat cosilio says:

    I think so…lots of drinks have sugar like gatorade and too much is not good for you. water is the best.

  30. Andree says:

    I usually rely on fitness drinks when I am so thirsty, water just isn’t enough to quench my thirst. I always feel guilty drinking them though because I don’t want to waste the calories I just burned on hydrating. Its good to hear there is an alternative out there. I can’t wait to try coconut water.

  31. Chris Mendoza says:

    I will try the coconut water as a post-workout drink. I have been researching “recovery” drinks, and I know I don’t want something with harmful ingredients like added fructose sweetener, or carcinogenic preservatives like acesulfame potassium.

  32. B says:

    Coconut water is really catching on…lots of girls in my dance class are starting to drink it. There is no added sugar and the energy boost from the B vitamins is great.

  33. Linda Zaban says:

    I first heard of this drink from a friend at my health club who loved and praised it to me. I have MS and do not need any more artificial ingredients in my body. I must take care of my body to the best of my ability and I believe this can only help me out more in my quest to stay healthy

  34. Linda Zaban says:

    First heard about it from my health club friends how healthy instead of all that sugary water was boy were they right I am now a huge fan of yours!

  35. Kayla says:

    I am not sure about this question. There are so many different types of energy drinks fitness drinks and diet drinks. I wish there was some way to find one that fits people as individuals. This drink sounds very inviting , I would love to try it.

  36. Cori says:

    I would love to try coconut water as an alternative to sports drinks that I use when working out at the gym or riding my bike on the trail. Plain water is boring and many sports drinks have sugar and after a while they all taste the same. Looking forward to trying something different!

  37. Cheryl says:

    There is nothing like water after exercising but it is nice to change things up and to have something with less soduim and sugar would be great.

  38. Mohan says:

    Soda - The worst thing to drink. Causes everything from acidity to bone mass loss.
    Water - An essential thing to drink.
    Coconut water - The best thing to drink + delicious!
    Coconut water super charged with minerals - could there be anything better???!!!!

  39. allison says:

    check out for some great recipes for post workout drinks using coconut water. easy, yummy, and just what your body needs.

  40. Sara says:

    The best thing for you is water, some of the sports drinks have too much sugar and some have way too many calories.

  41. Celyne Moh says:

    I usually prefer to drink water during my tennis practices. I usually find flavored drinks (especially gatorade) not as helpful because the stickiness of the thickness distracts me from concentrating during my matches. I think water is the only fool proof drink because there is no sugars to bloat me during my massive gulps.

  42. Aj says:

    I read an interesting article in sports illustrated a year or two back about saying that most sports drinks (protein shakes and such) are not properly tested even though they’re FDA approved, several have even been reported to cause permanent liver and kidney damage as a result. I try and stick to things where I can pronounce the ingredient list…never hurts to stick to things that are all natural…food for thought.

  43. Lisa says:

    I have been doing yoga for about two years and have just started doing more serious workout regimes in the last few months. I have heard of coconut water but never fully understood its benefits. I am interested in trying to eliminate artificial sugars from my diet, especially those in “healthy” waters.
    I love coconut, but its so fattening. I was really surprised that coconut water was fat free. I would be interested to try it.

  44. Cindy R. says:

    I think anything used in excess can be bad, but if a energy or replenishing drink is used in moderation could be beneficial for you. I think if somebody doesn’t like coconut the name of this drink could be a turn off. Personally I like coconut so it sounds interesting.

  45. tink says:

    i agree, water is the best when it comes to hydration. energy drinks are loaded with suger and salt. i look forward to trying something new that is actually good for you.

  46. Joy says:

    I usually drink a mixture of Gatorade and water during my runs, but as my runs get longer and I take in a Gu or two, my stomach feels like it’s had too much sugar. Maybe coconut water is the solution?

  47. Anna says:

    I’m intrigued. I always just drink water…no sports drinks for me, even on 15 mile runs. I guess it can’t hurt to try…

  48. Britannie says:

    The only fitness drink I will EVER have is coconut water. Water is obviously amazing for keeping cool and hydrated during exercise, but rather than reaching for a sugar/artificial sweetener filled “fitness drink” (definitely not essential for keeping you fit) I would rather drink coconut water. It has more potassium than bananas, plus so many other vitamins, I love that it’s literally natures health drink!

  49. Geneviève says:

    I don’t usually drink anything but water, even after hard, long runs. However, during the summer, I often get headaches after running, probably because of dehydration. It would be interesting to see if drinking coconut water before/after/during my runs could actually improve/speed up my recovery and avoid these headaches. I will definitely be checking it out! Thanks!

  50. Heidi says:

    After long runs I try to drink something like gatorade just to repkenish but I feel like it is so fake and sweet tasting. I love the idea of coconut water being so natural!

  51. Jesse says:

    I find that the regular “fitness drinks” tend to leave me more thirsty, or feeling water-logged. Must not be the right balance for me. And I’m surprised that American’s only consume 19% more added sugar than 40 years ago - that number seems awfully low to me, given what my co-workers eat everyday!

  52. adam says:

    yes the extensive amount of suger in sports drinks is bad. Just drink water.

  53. Jaime says:

    Since the beginning of March 2011, I quit drinking any kind of carbonated water (cokes) and everything containing High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, and all artificial sweeteners. I read labels religiously now and am aware of what I put into my body. Organic Milk, organic green tea, and water. It’s amazing what you put your body through when you drink and eat bad things (too much salt, sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, dyes, etc). I hate drinking or eating something with an overabundance of sugar or salt (even oil - like what’s in “other” sports drinks). They make me more thirsty than I previously was.

  54. Holli Litrenta says:

    Thanks for the article! It’s nice to finally see an article written about the negatives about all the fitness and energy drinks! They have so much sugar and salt in them! There are so many people that drink these just because they like how they taste, not because they are exercising and need the sugar/salt boost. It just adds to this unhealthy world.

  55. cycler45 says:

    would be interested to see the affects of coconut water on recovery

  56. mary mcclaine says:

    i love to try new stuff.i will give you every ounce or pound of my feedback.enjoy

  57. mary mcclaine says:

    bring me coconuts in the water please.your awsome man./

  58. Kyle says:

    The thing with sport drinks are: they are loaded with sugars and extras you stay thirsty, therefore you body is required to drink more. With water, it has nothing added therefore it hydrates and “refuels.” Something else I do not like about sport drinks is they leave you “sticky” unlike water. Good article!

  59. Michelle says:

    As a fitness professional, this is a great article to pass on to my clients and students. I see so many of them doing a minimal amount of exercise (not really even sweating), then downing a sports drink with the misinformed notion that they are doing something good for their body. I love that I can suggest an option to individuals who don’t want to just drink water.

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