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Sports drinks vs. water: What's better for hydration in this Texas heat?

A key part of playing it safe in this heat is diligent hydration, especially when you're outdoors. But is water the only option on the menu?
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DALLAS — We're in the dog days of summer with another triple-digit week here in North Texas.

A key part of playing it safe in this heat is diligent hydration, especially when you're outdoors. But is water the only option on the menu?

Our sister station WCNC Charlotte's VERIFY team received this question from a viewer, asking whether sports drinks can help in the high temperatures.

Let's take a look at what they found.

THE QUESTION

Will sports drinks keep you hydrated in the heat?

OUR SOURCES

THE ANSWER 

Yes, sports drinks will keep you hydrated in the heat, but some medical experts recommend water as a healthier option for most.

WHAT WE FOUND

Sports drinks are marketed as beverages that quickly replenish fluids, sugars, and electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, usually after strenuous activities. 

The drinks usually contain water, carbohydrates, like sugars, and electrolytes, which are essential minerals. 

Anderson said it is possible to overhydrate with sports drinks, just like with water.

"Even though there are electrolytes in there, it's nowhere near the contents of your blood," Anderson said.

Some of the drinks also have an abundance of sugar. 

Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health states that, while not as loaded as soda, many popular sports drinks still have a notable amount of sugar. The school said a nutritional comparison showed a typical 12-ounce cola has around 39 grams of sugar, while many popular sports drinks have 21 grams. 

It also cites some studies linking higher sports drink intake with a higher risk of being overweight or obese and with other health problems like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Both the school and the CDC suggest sports drinks be limited to those vigorously exercising for more than an hour or those outside sweating for several hours. 

The CDC said water will almost always keep a person hydrated, even when working in the heat, as long as the person is also eating regular meals to replace their lost salt.

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