Should I Drink Sugary Drinks In The Heat?

Drinking Sugary Beverages Might Not Be Smart

New research suggests that drinking sugary, caffeinated soft drinks while exercising in hot weather may increase the risk of kidney disease. The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology. We discuss the possible negative effects of drinking sugary drinks while working in the heat.Drinking sugary drinks can be bad if you work in the heat.

Comparative Study

If you’re working during long, summer days, then you may want to avoid certain drinks. Particularly, sugary and caffeinated drinks such as sweet coffee drinks, soda, and energy drinks, says one study. 

A dedicated research group at the University of Buffalo in New York City recreated the conditions of an agricultural workplace on a 35-degree day, an average temperature for most summer workplaces, especially for outdoor operations. Healthy adults were studied as they completed a one-hour exercise gauntlet which consisted of lifting, dexterity, treadmill, and sledgehammer swinging activities. 

Study Setup

After 45 minutes of exercise, the participants rested for 15 minutes while remaining in the same room. Some participantsSugary drinks may be bad for you if you work in the heat. were assigned 16 ounces of water during this time, while others were assigned 16 ounces of a high-fructose, caffeinated soft drink. This cycle was repeated three more times over the course of four hours. Before leaving the laboratory the participants were given more of their assigned beverage to drink before consuming any other liquids.

Each participant participated in both water and soft drink trials, with each subsequent trial being separated by a one-week long interval. The researchers measured the participant’s core body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, body weight, and markers of kidney injury before, immediately after, and 24 hours after each study.

Researchers observed higher levels of creatinine in the blood and a lower glomerular filtration rate after the soft drink trials, both of which are markers for kidney injury. Prolonged presence of these compounds in the bloodstream have been linked to early kidney failure and will cause further, more serious kidney complications if a major lifestyle change will not be taken.

Interesting Findings

As well as being mildly dehydrated, participants’ blood levels of vasopressin, a hormone that works and maintains elevated blood pressures, were also higher in individuals who participated in the soft drink trials.

These changes did not occur in the participants who drank water. The individuals who participated in these trials all had normal vitals and blood composition.

The researchers speculated that the consumption of soft drinks during and following exertion in elevated temperatures simply did not provide the adequate hydration that the body needs after losing such an amount of water.

“Thus, consuming soft drinks as a rehydration beverage during exercise in the heat may not be ideal. Further work will need to discern the long-term effects of soft drink consumption during exercise in the heat, and its relation to the risk of [kidney disease and kidney failure].”

What Does This Mean For Working In Construction?

Construction sites can get awfully warm during the summer months. Instead of drinking energy drinks and soda, you might actually benefit more by drinking just regular water. Drinking sugary drinks can be bad if you work in the heat.

Nothing beats the heat like a tall glass of ice-cold, refreshing water, and science seems to support this human nature. Be sure, if you’re working in construction, always have water on hand and keep yourself well hydrated during those long days.

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