As we’ve discussed, getting carbs every half hour or so on a long bike ride is very important to performance and health. The sources I cite suggest that drinking sports drinks can provide those carbs while replacing lost electrolyte (salt) and providing hydration. However, sports drinks are no panacea. As many of these articles point out, they usually too much sugar and unnecessary calories. But a recent study shows that the citric acid contained them can be very bad for your teeth:
In a study published in the May/June issue of General Dentistry, researchers have looked for the first time at the effects of energy drinks on teeth. It turns out there’s often a lot of citric acid in the drinks.
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“We are well aware of the damage that sugar does in the mouth and in the whole body — the role it can play in obesity, diabetes, etc,” says Poonam Jain, an associate professor in the School of Dental Medicine at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, and the lead author of the study. “But the average consumer is not very well aware that acid does all kinds of damage, too.” (via NPR)
The scientists are understandably more concerned about the role acids play in the development of children’s teeth, but does suggest that overconsumption of citric acid can play a role in loss of bone density and other health problems.
I don’t think this is a reason to avoid energy drinks, but just as with sugar it is probably cause to moderate consumption and to make sure you’re brushing your teeth after rides.