Are Sports Drinks Bad For Weight Loss? (Burn Calories and Carbs)

Sports drinks actually taste good and are popularly used by athletes to boost their energy and hydrate the body. Most sports drink brands like Powerade, Coco5, and Gatorade claim to be a good source of electrolytes and promote rapid rehydration.

Most sports beverages contain around 16 g of total carbohydrates, 95 mg sodium, and 13 g of sugar. But are sports drinks bad for weight loss? Let us see the benefits and drawbacks of sports beverage consumption.

Sports drinks are not bad for weight loss if consumed in moderation. Although sports beverages contribute to fluid retention and hydrate the body with their electrolyte components, regular consumption of them may cause weight gain as they are filled with sugar and sodium contents. 

For example, a 20oz Gatorade sports drink contains 34g of sugar and 270 mg of sodium levels.

When you appropriately consume sports drinks, it will not cause weight gain and helps for weight loss. For intense workouts, taking sports drinks at regular intervals would help to burn carbohydrates.

Gatorade36g270 mg140
Powerade35g50 mg140
10 K Thirst Quencher14 g110 mg50
Bodyarmor21 g30 mg90
100 Plus Isotonic22 g156 mg88

You can also consider taking sports drinks that are rich in protein or amino acids that have comparatively lower calories.

An 8 oz carb sports drink has 50 calories while the same size carb-protein drink contains only 40 calories.

When you do high-intensity workouts, sports drinks that are labeled ‘isotonic’ is ideal to drink as they contain 6-8% of carbohydrates. 

For moderate workouts, drinks labeled ‘hypotonic’ is useful as they have less than 6 carbohydrate levels.

Reasons Why Sports Drinks Cause Weight Gain

Non-athletes who use excess sorts of drinks are likely to cause weight gain as they contain large amounts of sugar, sodium, and carbs in them. It contains an average of 6-8% of carbohydrates. People who are obese can easily gain pounds as it is a carb drink.

These drinks are also not meant to be drunk during regular moderate exercise because they cannot burn calories as it does not balance the consumption and burning fat with simple workouts.

Along with the carbs in these drinks, the meal you take will gain extra calories that contribute to weight gain.

You need to enhance workouts like weightlifting, water aerobics, biking, and kickboxing to burn the extra calories and hinder weight gain.

Let us see the carbohydrate (CHO)  types, their amount, calories, and sodium content used in various sports drink brands.

All SportHigh Fructose Corn Syrup1450119
HydrafuelGlucose, Glucose Polymers, Fructose166625
GatoradeSucrose, Glucose, Fructose1450119
PoweradeHigh Fructose Corn Syrup, Glucose Polymers197055

Recommended Amount Of Sports Drink (Daily & Weekly)

Healthy adults who perform intense workouts could take an 8-ounce serving bottle of sports drink. It contains 60-100 calories that can be sipped in regular intervals or after exercise in addition to water intake.

You can consume less than 250 ml of Gatorade in a day. But if you work out for weight loss, it is better to avoid a sports drink and replace it with water. 

For every mile you run, you burn 100 calories, but when you drink a sports beverage after that the calorie deficit is less.

It will help to maintain electrolyte balance, and rehydration, and enhance your performance during workouts.

For people who do moderate exercise for less than 30 minutes may not need sports drinks as they can add on extra calories.

Instead of low-calorie sweeteners, sports drinks contain carbohydrates in the form of added sugar. 

American Heart Association has recommended limiting the sugar intake to 24 g a day, that is, 6% of sugar of the daily calories. A 20-ounce Powerade contains 35 g of sugar, so it is important to consider not to exceed the limit without proper fat burning.

How Much Sports Drinks is Too Much

When drinking 3 cans of sports beverages daily, you could nearly gain 1 pound in a week. It can be prevented with intense workouts lasting for 60 minutes. Studies have shown that daily consumption of sports drinks can increase by 0.3 BMI units among people.

For every 3500 calories, you gain will make your body fat increase by 1 pound without proper exercise or diet.

The weight gain associated with sports drink intake is highly reflected in youth adolescents who consume more than 2 drinks per day. 

For example, Gatorade G2 has a low-calorie version of the drink that has only 75 calories in a 32-ounce bottle. It is less than other brands but can still contribute to weight gain when consumed in excess.

Around 57% of teens have been drinking sports beverages which is the highest rate over the past few years.

How To Quit Sports Drinks

The overconsumption can be reduced slowly by sipping the drink in small amounts than gulping the entire fluid. You can also mix the sports drink with water in a half and half consistency which helps to reduce the amount of sugar and sodium intake.

For those who do intense workouts, it is difficult to skip the sports drink intake. For this, you can prepare your own sports drink or add lemon juice, salt, and stevia to water for hydration and maintain electrolytes in the body.

You can reduce the daily intake of sports drinks by switching it to weekly once and then stopping it completely by consuming alternative drinks like water.

To overcome the withdrawal symptoms like headache, fatigue, or depression you can try yoga, meditation, or indulge in any other stress relieving and recreational activities.

Best Sports Drinks Alternatives For Weight Loss

The healthier alternatives to bottled sports drinks include plain water, green tea, homemade drinks, vegetable and fruit juices, milk, and coconut water.


Water is the healthiest alternative for sports drinks. While you can drink 8-12 ounces of sports drink during a workout, a regular water intake is 12-16 ounces. You can also try sparkling water instead.

Homemade Sports Drinks

The other alternative is homemade sports drinks with naturally flavored water. You can make infused water that is rich in nutrients.

For example, Cucumber, Ginger, Citrus, or Mint infusion are rich in vitamins and are refreshing.

Coconut Water

It is one of the top choices as they are low in sugar and rich in minerals like potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium. It helps to regain electrolytes that are burned during workouts.


Natural juices are rich in electrolytes, antioxidants, and vitamins. One cup of fruit juice contains around 6% of potassium. Vegetable juices are high in fiber and less in sugar which makes them an effective replacement for sports drinks.


Since milk is a good source of electrolytes and minerals, they are a great substitute for sports drinks. For weight loss goals, you can choose low-fat, skimmed milk, or plant-based milk.

Green Tea

Green tea boost metabolism and enhance performance. It helps to increase fat burning when it is consumed before a workout.


Smoothies are beneficial to athletes and are an effective pre-workout drink. Mixing veggies, fruits, yogurt, nuts, and legumes help to boost energy with its electrolyte content.