'Improved' sports drink is still bad for you

I spend a lot of time in the gym, on the ice, and on my bike riding through the beautiful Southern California countryside. I can work up a sweat with the best of them -- but I've never felt the need to sip one of those fluorescent-colored liquids that pass for "sports" drinks.

And that's not going to change now that they're removing one of the worst ingredients from Gatorade.

It's called brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, and it's supposed to help mix citrus flavors.

But that's not all it can do.

It's actually under patent as a flame-retardant, which means it could come in handy if your exercise bike happens to catch fire. But do you really want to put that in your stomach?

Me neither -- because bromine and brominated vegetable oil have been linked to disrupted thyroid function, neurological and developmental problems (especially in kids), and may even harm fertility.

This chemical has been getting a lot of press since a well-meaning little girl launched a campaign to have it taken out of Gatorade. And now that it's being removed, she can declare victory -- but I'm hoping she doesn't actually start drinking it now.

Brominated vegetable oil may have been one of the worst ingredients in Gatorade, but removing it won't make the drink healthy -- because it's still loaded with sugar. A single bottle of any sports drink can contain as many calories as you burned during your workout (and then some).

And don't even think about diet sports drinks -- they're often sweetened with chemicals such as aspartame that are even worse for you than sugar.

If you work up a thirst working out, do yourself a favor and stick to filtered water instead. If you want something beyond water, consider coconut water or vegetable juice.

One more note about brominated vegetable oi: Gatorade may be getting rid of it… but the people who make it won't be going out of business anytime soon. You'll find it in other sports drinks as well as citrus-based soft drinks such as Mountain Dew, Fresca, and Squirt.