The Truth Behind Sports Drinks

Nicole Griswold, CHWC, Wellness Coordinator

The advertisement of sports drinks are often misleading and untrue. They are portrayed as being nourishing and necessary during all types of exercise. These days, unfortunately, most of the general public will believe anything they are told if they are being told it will make them healthier. Most people don’t even see them as a sports drink anymore. They’re being drank as an everyday beverage which should be pure water. Commercials, ads, and celebrity endorsements are just another ploy from the big beverage corporations.

Many of the mass produced drinks have brand names that sounds healthy, right? It’s a pretty good marketing ploy to help boost sales. It’s a trick to get consumers to believe they are nourishing the bodies and minds with liquid magic. Realistically, they should just name each drink “sugar” and call it a day. Experts in the fields of nutrition, epidemiology, and obesity are starting to blame the nation’s health epidemic on big beverage companies – but that’s an entirely different topic.  Would you trust a product from a corporation that has easily contributed to almost half of the United States being classified as obese?

There are many different brands of sports drinks out there. What do they all have in common? Extra calories and lots of sugar. The amount of added sugar is comparable to a can of your average cola drink. With these added negatives, most brands have produced a line of zero calorie or reduced calorie options. This will be a better choice but it will still contain artificial sweeteners and flavoring. Below you can find a generic label from a popular sports drink.

So, when are these drinks beneficial? Some types of sports drinks do provide athletes with necessary electrolytes post a vigorous exercise routine. After exercising for over 60 minutes of high intensity exercise, your body will most likely need a replenishment of sodium and electrolytes. This is where some of these drinks can come in handy but there is another loophole – you only need about a quarter of what’s in a large bottle to do the job. Body types and exercise intensity will vary regarding how much of the supplement you really need. In this case, less is more. Drinking an entire bottle after a workout will just add in some extra calories you tried so hard to burn. The excess sugar will convert to fat and the sodium will dry you out. Regarding the added vitamins, yes these are good for you but they are artificially produced so your body will not absorb them fully as they would in getting them from a natural source. Any of the vitamins and/or minerals listed on the bottles can be easily found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

The moral of the story is this – drink regular water. Your body runs off water and is 100% necessary for your survival. If you are involved in a high intensity exercise routine, having a low calorie sports drink available is a good idea. Just make sure to drink a recommended serving size or less. One large bottle can last you a long time if you use it correctly. Focus on lots of water and a balanced diet. And remember, with any food or drink – natural is best!

The Game Plan – Strategic Planning in Wellness

Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Wellness Account Manager

“Wellness” is defined in many ways, and when an organization is faced with implementing a new wellness program, the sky really is the limit. But there are many things that need to be considered when making your program the most budget-friendly and effective it can be.

Year one should be an assessment year:

  • Measure the current health of your employees through biometric screenings and Health Risk Assessments.
  • What are employees not only needing as far as education and encouragement, but what are they actually interested in learning about?
  • Is your facility set up to provide structural and cultural support for a wellness program?
  • Do your policies truly support the wellbeing of your employees? (Flextime, healthy meeting options, nicotine free campuses, and more).
  • What are your goals for the program?

Goals – that is where the planning comes in. After year one measurements, come up with a strategic plan that is at least 3 years in length. Design this plan with the following in mind:

  • Develop a mission of the program with a mission statement.
  • Connect the dots on all of your plans for the year. For example: focus on Nutrition in year 1 with all of your programs/education. This will create a focus for employees instead of being overwhelmed with exercise, nutrition, smoking cessation, mental health, sleep, work-life balance, and everything all at the same time.
  • Each program you deliver must lead back to your mission. “Does what we are trying to do here directly support the mission?” If not, don’t do it.
  • Is our program simple to understand? Is it achievable?

Too many wellness programs, while very well-intended, implement activities that do not make sense together in the grand scheme of things. Creating a 3 year calendar of events and strategic plan will help your planning team know what’s coming, be able to budget effectively, and make the biggest impact on your population.


Insulin – Good vs. Evil: Which Side Are You On

   Ryan Hall  MS, CSCS, Wellness Coordinator

Insulin and glucagon are the primary hormones involved in the storage and release of energy within the body. Although countless tasks are performed by these two hormones, insulin’s main priority is to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high and conversely glucagon’s main function is to prevent blood sugar levels from falling too low. How about we focus on the instigator of the group, insulin.

In appropriate amounts, insulin keeps the metabolic system running smoothly with everything in balance. In excess it becomes a mischievous hormone running throughout the body, wreaking metabolic havoc and leaving a trail of destruction and disease where ever it goes. Here’s what excess insulin can cause:

  • Hunger
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Bloating
  • Fluid retention throughout the body
  • Increased fat in the cells
  • A changing of protein & sugar into fat
  • Obesity
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Arterial damage
  • Heart disease
  • Brain dysfunction
  • Coma
  • Death

Now that we know what too much can do, how do we control it? Well, through diet of course! Controlling our blood sugar levels will control our insulin and glucagon levels. You eat foods high in carbohydrates (sugar) and the pancreas releases insulin to help decrease the jolt of blood sugar. Constant ingestion of high carbohydrate foods in turn causes a constant elevated release of this tricky little hormone. Sooner or later, the receptor sites in our cells (how the insulin gets in) become overloaded and eventually can stop recognizing the insulin, i.e. – insulin resistance. At this point the cells do not receive the insulin to control the increasing blood sugar level, but the body keeps dumping in more and more insulin to try and control it. Oh no! Look ma, excess insulin!

The solution: a diet low in those pesky carbohydrates, you know, that stuff that can cause these giant fluctuations in blood sugar. Now, not all carbohydrates are created equal. The good: fresh fruits and vegetables with low glycemic loads (lower sugar content). The bad: processed carbohydrates such as grains, pastas, rices and packaged baked goods. All of these have high sugar contents that cause blood sugar levels to skyrocket. A good rule of thumb: if it comes in a package or a box it probably isn’t good for you!

Osteoporosis Awareness

Nicole Griswold, CHWC, Wellness Coordinator

Lack of preventative care is a huge reason as to why so many people eventually suffer from ongoing chronic disease. With so many risk factors being asymptomatic, anyone who avoids regular visits with a physician, usually have no idea their health is in a downward spiral until it’s too late.

Unfortunately, osteoporosis is becoming one of the leading health issues contributing to long term unemployment due to disability. Osteoporosis is also known as the “silent disease” because it is nearly impossible to tell if someone is suffering from the low bone density disease, unless they are directly tested for it.

Luckily, we have pin pointed a good amount of risk factors that can keep us aware if we are most at risk than others for acquiring the disease. Like all health related risk factors, some are preventable and others are just the hand that we are dealt.

Take a look at just some of the following factors that could put you at risk for Osteoporosis –


  1. Female
  2. Old age
  3. White or Asian ethnicity
  4. Small body frame
  5. Family history of Osteoporosis
  6. Menopause before age 45
  7. Previous bone fractures
  8. Loss of height with older age


  1. Physical inactivity
  2. Low calcium and vitamin D intake
  3. Smoker
  4. Excessive alcohol and caffeine intake
  5. Low strength/physical capabilities
  6. Poor posture
  7. Excessive soda consumption
  8. Various medications

How many of those apply directly to you? More importantly, how many of the modifiable factors can you change? Focus on controlling what you can as much as possible.  If multiple non-modifiable factors also come into play, it is recommended to seek care or testing from a physician.

Activating Your Office

Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Wellness Account Manager

“Going for a run is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin” – Dr. John J. Ratey, Spark – The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

We all know that exercise has its benefits, but do we really understand the effects exercise can have during a work day and long term health?  Based on an Australian study in 2012, adults sitting 11+ hours/day were 40% more likely to die (although cause of death was not noted).  Smokers using 10 cigarettes/day are 30% more likely to die.1

smoking sitting


Simply standing 3 hours during your work days instead of sitting burns 36,000 calories a year – that’s the energy equivalent of running 10 marathons!

Providing employees with the right environment to be active is key.  Here are some ideas to make your office active:

1.  Provide standing desks for all employees or standing desk options in personal spaces, or “bar” height bistro tables in conference rooms.
2.  In at least one conference room, provide a standing conference desk.  Meetings with these desks have proven to be more productive and take less time (after all, everyone wants to be done standing!)
3.  Have walking meetings, especially if notes don’t need to be taken
4. Provide an indoor bike rack for employees to encourage riding to work
5. Provide a handful of treadmill desks where employees can step away from their regular desk and check emails at the treadmill desk and get some extra steps in (note: do NOT place this treadmill in the MIDDLE of your office.  No one wants to be the center of attention and the only one on a treadmill)
6.  Stemming from tip #5, set up different areas of activity in your office.  Have a “quiet” section and an “active” section (where your treadmill desks, maybe some yoga balls, bands, etc. will be)
7.  If you are building a new facility, make sure to include a shower or two.  This will remove one barrier to exercise for your employees!
8.  Encourage standing during calls (and if you do, provide employees with an Anti-Fatigue mat to stand on)
9.  Lastly, encourage stair use vs. elevator use and use visual prompts

stair use signs          stair use signs2          stair use signs 3

Multi-dimensional interventions work the best





Information presented by Jake Koenig, owner of “Fit Your Space” in Brooklyn, NY, at the 2015 National Wellness Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

1van der Ploeg, 2012, NCBI, Jacobs DR Jr 1999, NCBI


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