Gatorade: The Potential Harm & Healthy Alternatives

Gatorade is a popular sports drink among sportspeople because it contains electrolytes that promote hydration. 

But, it also has calories and sugars that may not be suitable choices for people looking to shed weight or those who follow a healthy diet. 

As seen on Gatorade’s website, this beverage was born in the lab when a team of researchers investigated the reasons why athletes tend to fall ill after working out in the sun. 

They discovered it’s because athletes lose electrolytes and liquids with exertion, but aren’t properly replacing them. So, Gatorade was made to substitute these carbs and electrolytes and provide hydration. 

Despite being marketed as a sports beverage, athletes aren’t the only ones consuming it. In fact, a lot of kids consume it during lunch or after practicing soccer or another sport and many others drink it as a cure for hangovers. 

Although Gatorade may have less sugar than soda drinks, not everything about it is healthy. Stay tuned to learn why.

The Good & The Bad of Gatorade 

If you work out regularly, hydration is pivotal. Water is one of the easiest and best ways to boost hydration in the body. 

But, beverages such as Gatorade also contain electrolytes, sugar, potassium, and sodium and ensure we can replace the lost during long and strenuous exercise, particularly sessions done in high heat. 

Electrolytes are minerals that our body needs to maintain the ionic balance that’s pivotal for muscle, brain, and nerve function. The imbalance increases the risk of electrolyte disorder. 

Potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate are all electrolytes. Together with carbohydrates, electrolytes refuel and hydrate the body. This is why sports drinks are so popular.

Electrolytes balance the fluids in the body and the carbs increase the energy. Gatorade makers claim that their product is better than water in hydrating the body due to the additional ingredients in it. 

And, there’s research that supports these claims. 

In fact, a University of California at Berkeley found that sports beverages may be better than water for kids and athletes who regularly do extensive and prolonged exercise for more than an hour, particularly in hot weather. 

But, people who work out for less than 60 to 90 minutes may not need this drink to keep their performance optimal or to better it. 

Therefore, there are a lot of unanswered questions concerning the advantages and disadvantages of this drink for the average consumer.

In fact, most individuals who drink Gatorade aren’t actually athletes. And, the Berkeley study notes that most people who consume sports drinks at least once per day aren’t as physically active as they should be to actually benefit from such a beverage.

What’s more, a 20-ounce serving of the Thirst Quencher by Gatorade has 36 grams of sugar, or a bit less sugar per ounce than an average soda drink. So, it’s not really healthy. 

In the Berkeley study, the researchers emphasize that the sugar from sports drinks may be a contributing factor to the child obesity epidemic due to the higher intake of calories. When we consume it often, the sugar from Gatorade may also increase the risk of tooth decay, particularly in younger individuals. 

Also, people who’re less active may not need the extra sugar and sodium. Also, the excess calories from the drink may lead to weight gain while the surplus sodium may elevate the chance of hypertension over time. 

Their low-calorie version known as G2 uses acesulfame and sucralose for sugar. G2 has 40 calories per 16 ounces or fewer than half the calories of regular Gatorade. The research on the long-term safety of these artificial sweeteners is ongoing so the information isn’t conclusive. 

It’s also essential to mention that Gatorade has food dyes, including Red No.40, Blue No.1, and Yellow No.5. These artificial dyes are made from petroleum and may elevate the chance of hyperactivity in kids and have also been associated with cancer.

Choose Healthier Alternatives for You & Your Family

Knowing the positive and negative sides of Gatorade, it may be of great aid to learn about healthy alternatives that will provide electrolytes and other health advantages without endangering your health and well-being. 

Below, check out some great options to take into account:

  • Watermelon

This favorite summer fruit offers high levels of water and electrolytes so it’s the ideal option to hydrate and replenish the body with the needed minerals. 

What’s more, it’s rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is good for a healthy heart and may reduce the risk of some cancers. 

Research from the Agricultural and Food Chemistry journal investigated the potential advantages of watermelon juice for physical performance and muscle soreness in sportspeople. 

  • Coconut water

Coconut water hydrates and supplies your body with electrolytes. It will also provide antioxidants and cytokines that possess anti-cancer and anti-aging characteristics. 

Studies have found it to be as potent as commercial sports drinks in hydrating sportspeople. In a study published in the International Society of Sports Nutrition journal, the effectiveness of coconut water and sports drinks in rehydrating athletes were compared and coconut water was determined as the more viable choice. 

  • DIY electrolyte drink

If you’re a fan of homemade drinks, you will love to hear that you can easily prepare an electrolyte drink using the ingredients you already have. 

One very popular option includes mixing two cups of coconut water, ¼ cup of lemon juice, ¼ tsp of sea salt, and two tablespoons of honey or maple syrup if you want sweetness. 

Once you mix the ingredients, chill the drink in the fridge for at least half an hour before consumption. 

  • Fruit-infused water 

If you want to make water drinking more fun, infuse it with slices of fruits like berries, oranges, etc. These drinks will rehydrate your body and boost the electrolytes. 

  • Herbal tea

Herbal teas like ginger or chamomile have soothing properties and will also hydrate the body and supply it with much-needed electrolytes.