(NaturalNews) Not all of today's high-tech, ultra-talented athletes are hooked on today's high-tech supplements. In fact, more than a few of them are beginning to do the right thing for their bodies by rejecting synthetic sports drinks and supplements, in favor of real food.
The natural food phenomenon is being highlighted as the start of the 2012 Olympic Games in London is set for later this month, when viewers of the games will no doubt be bombarded with ads for so-called "sports" drinks, nutritional supplements and energy gels - the latter of which comes in small foil packages and which so many runners and cyclists use during their events.
In fact, top-selling Powerade is the "official" sports drink of the 2012 Olympics, National Public Radio reported recently, implying that "processed sports foods and neon-colored drinks are the stuff that gold medalists are made of.
Increasingly; however, sports nutritionists and professional athletes are not in agreement. Physician and nutrition expert David Katz, of the Yale University School of Medicine, told NPR that sports drinks on average are about as bad as soda.
"[Sports drink companies'] marketing is based on the gimmick that somehow this extra load of sugar and calories will turn you into an athlete," he said.
We need electrolytes, true, but...
One of the most prevalent of these drinks is Gatorade, which sells itself as an end-all, be-all supplement for athletic prowess. One of its most effective pitches is that the drink can rehydrate a body more efficiently than simple water.
Leslie Bonci, a dietary advisor to a number of Major League Baseball teams and a Gatorade consultant says the body can absorb the drink more quickly than water alone, and that the sugar contained in Gatorade provides necessary calories that water can't.
"Gatorade is a source of fluid, it's a source of energy, and it's a source of electrolytes," she said.
Indeed, electrolytes are essential minerals that help the body retain water. It's also true that humans can't live without electrolytes.
But those contained in Gatorade and Powerade have to be added; they occur naturally in several foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, milk and even coconut water, NPR reported.
Dr. Katz of Yale said the sugar content of sports drinks is more likely to create unwanted side effects than help you become a better competitor and finish a race or game stronger.
Such side effects include tooth decay and extra layers of fat that won't go away, no matter how vigorously you exercise. Part of that, he notes, is because makers of sports drinks and nutritional supplements don't just encourage their use during sporting events, but before and after as well.
One such brand is GU Energy, a popular foil-wrapped gel that contains 100 calories in each pouch. The manufacturer advises sucking one of them down before a workout, then every 45 minutes during the workout. And, for the workout-recovery meal, there is GU Recovery Brew.
"The sports nutrition industry just tells us to eat, eat, eat," Stanford University nutrition coach Stacy Sims said. "They don't care how big you are or whether you're a man or a woman or if you're trying to lose weight."
(NPR went onto to say that Sims co-founded her own sports nutrition company called Osmo, "which makes powdered sports drinks for hydration and recovery, and are purportedly easier on the body than syrupy energy gels.")
Stay natural, not flabby
And even though pediatricians and many health care professionals advise drinking lots of water during hot days on practice fields, you'll see most kids slurping on the faddish sports and energy drinks.
More and more professional sports figures; however, are coming out against them. Among them is mountain biker Gary Fisher, who said all the "engineered nutrition" products keep many an amateur athlete on the hefty side.
"I see guys who really put in the miles, and they have a gut that never goes away," he said, adding that he prefers to eat roast beef sandwiches, burritos, nuts and bananas during bike rides. Afterward, he said, he often eats a large chicken or fish helping with a salad dressed in olive oil.
Stanford's Sims says flat out - keep away from the goos and gels unless you just don't have anything else to consume.
"The fact is, every time you take a gel, you're doing the exact opposite of what you want to do," she said.