Is Body Armor healthy? A popular sport drink, like BodyArmor, may be considered healthy by some and not healthy by others. This article aims to provide pertinent information for you to make an informed consumer decision.
BodyArmor was created by Mike Repole in 2011 under BA Sports Nutrition LLC. It has now become an owned product of the Coca-Cola Company and is endorsed by several high-profile professionals like Bryce Young, the Carolina Panthers quarterback; actor Jennifer Lopez; and Ryan Blaney, a Nascar driver.
BodyArmor positions itself as a healthier alternative to traditional sports drinks by using natural flavors and sweeteners and no artificial colors. It’s major taglines are “superior hydration” and “the sports drink for today’s athletes” as well as “built for all-day hydration for the athlete in all of us.” The BodyArmor line of products contains 5 main products — “Sport Water,” original and “lyte” sport drinks, Edge, and Flash I.V. All but the alkaline water come in various flavors and they all contain differing amounts of electrolytes. The Edge drink has caffeine added, the Lyte drink has no sugar added, and the Flash I.V. has zinc, vitamin B, and vitamin C added.
Sport Drink Considerations
While vitamins and minerals are healthy for us, one has to weigh the pros and cons of any sports drinks.
Here are a few points to consider:
- Nutrient Profile
BodyArmor contains electrolytes and vitamins, which can be beneficial for athletes and individuals who engage in intense physical activity. Yet, it also contains added sugars and calories. While these can provide quick energy during exercise, excessive consumption of added sugars can contribute to health issues, like weight gain and increased risk of chronic diseases.
- Natural Ingredients
BodyArmor emphasizes the use of natural flavors and sweeteners, which can be appealing to those seeking products with fewer artificial additives. However, it’s important to note that “natural” doesn’t always equate to being healthier or free from potential side effects.
- Individual Needs
The overall healthiness of BodyArmor or any sports drink depends on an individual’s specific needs and goals. On the one hand, some athletes or individuals engaging in prolonged and intense physical activities can benefit from the electrolytes and carbohydrates in sports drinks like BodyArmor for hydration and replenishment. On the other hand, for those with lower activity levels or individuals who need lower-calorie options, water and a well-balanced diet will likely be sufficient for hydration and recovery.
With any beverage or food, moderation is key. Consuming BodyArmor in moderation, not everyday, as part of an overall balanced diet is likely to have fewer negative health impacts.
Are you willing to drink a lot of sugar in one drink, knowing sugar does not add any health benefits? The second ingredient on all drinks except the Sport Water and Lyte drinks is pure cane sugar; the Lyte drink lists the second ingredient as erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol derived from corn. While erythritol and cane sugar are natural sugar sources, so the claim of natural sweeteners stands, the sugar alcohol may cause GI upset and the amount of cane sugar in the drinks is high. For example, the Blue Raspberry Edge has a total of 62 grams of sugar per bottle with 59 grams being added. That is a high sugar content at 15.5 teaspoons of sugar in one 28oz bottle. The current recommendations for sugar per day for men is 9 teaspoons and 6 teaspoons for women.
Sticking with the example of the BodyArmor edge, it provides 140 mg of caffeine per bottle. Caffeine is seen in studies as possibly effective to improve athletic performance, though not in short duration activities, such as lifting or sprinting. Caffeine intake of 2-9 mg/kg body weight seems to increase physical endurance.
There are always outliers for the use of sports drinks. If you are a “heavy sweater,” in a very hot environment, or have exercise sessions over 1.5 hours, then a sports drink can be considered. If you are a professional athlete or participate in endurance events like marathons, then a sports drink is appropriate.
As for the Sport Water, most people do not need an alkaline water but instead plain water, according to the Mayo Clinic. BodyArmor’s water touts a pH 9+ with a proprietary blend of electrolytes, yet several reviews on BodyArmor’s own website state they tested the water with pH strips and it had a pH 6 reading. It begs the question, “Are you really getting what you paid for?” Furthermore, many review submissions within the last 4 months gave only a 1 star review because the water tasted terrible, describing it as tasting and smelling like chlorine.
Besides vitamins, sugar, and electrolytes, BodyArmor contains filtered water, 10% coconut water from coconut water concentrate, and stevia along with fruit and vegetable juices for color. Many beverages, no matter their flavor, had “natural strawberry kiwi flavor with other natural flavors” listed on the ingredient list. I could not find much information on this when I searched, unfortunately. It is odd to me that it is in a cucumber lime drink and an orange drink when both of these flavors are far from strawberry or kiwi.
There are clear benefits from BodyArmor products, such as hydration and electrolyte replenishment. BodyArmor also claims to provide essential vitamins, such as vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B12, and antioxidants, like vitamins A, C, and E, which may help support immune function and reduce oxidative stress caused by intense exercise. There are also some additional perks that have nothing to do with health, like a wide variety of flavor choices.
BodyArmor is formulated to help replenish fluids and electrolytes lost during physical activity. Here are the Recommended Dietary Allowances for the nutrients in BodyArmor and more, so you can see how the drink stacks against the national recommendation.
Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining optimal performance and preventing dehydration. According to a John Hopkins University article, if your muscle cells are dehydrated, they will break down protein more quickly and build muscle more slowly, making one’s workout less effective. It is important to hydrate before and during your workout to maintain your blood’s volume to stave off fatigue; it is important to hydrate after a workout to replenish what was lost through sweat.
The drinks contain electrolytes like potassium, sodium, chloride, and magnesium, which are essential for proper muscle function, nerve transmission, maintaining the electrical activity of the heart, and fluid balance in the body. Replenishing electrolytes can aid in recovery, maintain proper pH balance in the body, and prevent muscle cramps and dehydration.
Sport Drink Alternatives
If you do not want to drink a BodyArmor before, during, or after a workout, then what can be consumed instead? Believe it or not, chocolate milk is the gold standard choice for post-workout recovery. It contains the 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein needed for recovery, naturally contains electrolytes like sodium and potassium, and is a fluid for fluid replenishment. Plus, it is delicious and economical. Another option is a well-balanced meal – lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy – with water. Before and during a workout, drinking water is a great choice.
Is BodyArmor Healthy?
While BodyArmor does contain some beneficial ingredients like electrolytes and vitamins, whether it can be considered “healthy” depends mainly on individual dietary needs. The general public does not need to consume BodyArmor regularly and can receive the benefits of the drink through a proper, balanced diet and drinking water.
It’s always a good idea to consult with a Registered Dietitian, a healthcare professional who is an expert in nutrition, to assess your specific nutritional needs and determine if a particular sports drink, like BodyArmor, aligns with your health goals. As a 10-year Registered Dietitian with a love for exercise and fitness, I would be honored to help. Click here to schedule a free, 15-minute call with me today!