Why do you feel lightheaded? Did you have enough to drink? These are often questions I ask as a coach. As parents and coaches, ensuring our athletes stay hydrated is a top priority. While sports drinks are a popular choice, not all options are created equal. Many commercial sports drinks contain high levels of sugar and artificial additives, which may not be ideal for the health of growing bodies. In this guide, we’ll explore the best healthy sports drinks for kids that provide the necessary hydration and essential nutrients without compromising their well-being.
Top Healthy Sports Drinks
Before delving into sports drinks, it’s crucial to emphasize the importance of plain water. Water remains the most natural and effective way to keep young athletes hydrated. Encourage your kids to drink water before, during, and after physical activity to replenish fluids lost through sweat.
An excellent alternative to traditional sports drinks, coconut water is a natural electrolyte-rich beverage. Packed with potassium, magnesium, and other essential minerals, coconut water helps replenish electrolytes lost during exercise without the added sugars found in some commercial sports drinks.
Electrolyte Sports Drinks
Create your healthy electrolyte drinks at home by mixing water with a pinch of salt, a splash of fruit juice, and a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup for sweetness. This DIY option provides electrolytes without the excess sugars and artificial additives often present in store-bought alternatives.
Believe it or not, chocolate milk has been recognized as a suitable recovery beverage for young athletes. It provides a mix of protein, carbohydrates, and electrolytes, making it a tasty and effective option for replenishing energy stores post-exercise. Opt for low-fat or skim milk to keep the fat content in check.
Elevate the flavor of plain water by infusing it with fresh fruits. Add slices of citrus fruits, berries, or cucumber to a water bottle for a refreshing and hydrating drink. Not only does this enhance the taste, but it also provides a subtle infusion of vitamins and antioxidants.
Sports Drinks with Natural Ingredients
If you opt for store-bought sports drinks, choose those with natural ingredients and minimal added sugars. Look for options that contain electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, without artificial colors or flavors. Read labels carefully to ensure you’re making a health-conscious choice.
Prioritizing healthy hydration for young athletes is essential for their overall well-being and performance. Whether you choose natural options like water, coconut water, or homemade electrolyte drinks, or opt for carefully selected commercial sports drinks, the key is to be mindful of the ingredients. By making informed choices, you can ensure that your child stays properly hydrated while receiving the nutritional benefits necessary for their active and growing bodies.
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About the author:
Amy Masters is a sports mom, coach, and club administrator. She has been coaching youth sports for more than 10 years. She started Jr Lions Field Hockey, the youth recreation program for the Hunterdon County community growing it from 40 players in year 1 to 150 players by year 3. A few years later, she saw the love and competitiveness grow then started Omega Field Hockey Club serving NJ and PA players. Before coaching, she was a collegiate field hockey player for Lock Haven University. In her spare time (lol), she is head of marketing for iSport360, where she brings her love of sports to a bigger audience.