Gatorade: Top things you need to know about this staple energy drink


Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Gatorade – the exercise enhancer

Gatorade is a manufacturer that mainly sells energy drinks and also products such as protein powders, energy endurance gel, energy bars, chewable energy candies, etc. There are many flavors of Gatorade energy drinks, but the base components remain the same. The main components include sucralose, citric acid, filtered water, brominated vegetable oil, and high fructose corn syrup.

These products mainly contain sugar and important minerals like potassium and sodium. It renews the electrolyte balance in the body. This product was initially designed by researchers at the University of Florida in the year 1965. The main objective was to enhance the performance of the football team (“The Gators”).

Minerals from Gatorade are important for ionic pumps present in the lining of the cells. These ionic pumps regulate the entry and exit of substances from the cell. Such pumps are also present in every nerve cell and play an important role in nerve impulse conduction. Athletes or individuals who indulge in heavy workout regimes will require enhanced electrolyte replenishment because of sweating. Sweating results in loss of hydration and also the loss in the electrolyte balance. Gatorade-intake is considered useful in such cases.

What is the role of sodium and potassium in electrolyte balance?

Excess of sodium outside the cell will lead to efflux of water from the cell, into the blood. This increases the volume of the blood and adds to the blood pressure.

Sodium is also an important element in the transporting pumps. A drastic low level of sodium will increase the water absorption of the cells resulting in swelling. This will diminish the cell’s ability to carry oxygen. Potassium from Gatorade is vital for the cell as the nerve impulse signaling. Apart from this, potassium from Gatorade helps in reducing blood pressure, fluid retention in the cells and also aids in muscle recovery.

Gatorade – is it bad?

Usually, the consumption of such high sugar sports drinks like Gatorade will result in the following traits. Diet gets affected as cravings will increase. You will gain weight as the calorie content is very high (example: about 500 ml of the Gatorade Organic Thirst Quencher yields about 120 calories).

This is an unhealthy consumption of added sugars. Any individual will be more prone to diabetes and obesity, if he/she consumes such sugary beverages in high amounts. It is not like Gatorade consumption is bad. You can still consume it in small amounts, but completely relying on such products with no inclusion of natural dietary sugars is detrimental to your health in the long run.

Should I drink water or Gatorade after my workout??

To benefit from Gatorade drinks, it is better you have them 1 hour after a good workout. Water in Gatorade provides a good hydration and electrolyte replenishment. Potassium, sodium, water, and other minerals get lost during sweating. The high electrolyte supply from Gatorade will enable better or faster rehydration and renewal of the lost electrolytes. You can also make good use of this in cases of stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhea where there is excessive loss of water and electrolytes.

What does research say?

The main purpose of Gatorade was to enable major athletes to accomplish better in the field. Athletes found higher benefits from Gatorade drinks than water. The researchers don’t advice on consumption of Gatorade or any other sports drinks for normal people, children or anyone who exercises for less than an hour.

What are the risks associated with over-consumption of Gatorade?

Gatorade contains a large amount of added sugar. This makes an individual more prone to diabetes. Diabetes results in further cellular damage and complications associated with the heart, microbial infections, vision loss, fatigue, etc.

This drink is suited to serious athletic professionals. You should know that a 20 ounce of Gatorade’s Thirst Quencher yields in 36 grams of sugar. This is slightly less than the regular soda but still is not healthy.

The scientists also highlight that the sharp rise in childhood obesity is via such drinks as it increases calorie consumption to an unhealthy level. In children, just like any sugary substance, Gatorade will also add to the tooth decay.

There is another product called Gatorade’s low-calorie version called G2, where the sugar is replaced with sucralose and acesulfame. This G2 product contains about 40 calories for every 16 ounces. This is lesser than half of the calories from regular Gatorade. Currently, more research is going on on this aspect in the long run but nothing can be decoded firmly.

Another problem associated is that Gatorade contains food dyes such as Blue No. 1, Red No. 40, etc. These compounds are produced from petroleum and can result in life-threatening complications such as cancer.

Alternatives to Gatorade

If you hardly exercise or exercise for about an hour or even lesser, then it is healthier to stick to water. You can also consume electrolytes via tender coconut juice, etc., as they are free from any added sugars or food dyes. There are many healthy ways to make sports drinks or smoothies at home. It is always ideal to use water for hydration, especially for children. Include fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet. They will make up for the carbs and the electrolyte requirements.

The bottom line…

Gatorade, the energizing sports drink was mainly designed to suit the purposes of endurance for sports professionals. The objective isn’t wrong but it is important to be aware of the consumption. Gatorade is best for those who indulge in intense physical exercises. It provides a tangy taste along with water and electrolytes.

It is not advisable for children or for those who exercise less. Most of the researches on this brand are mainly funded by the manufacturing industries. So, the underlying health impacts will not be given much attention. Not many scientific investigations have been done on these areas. There are other healthy ways to make energized sports drinks at home for normal individuals. You can include natural sources such as blueberries, strawberries, yogurt, coconut milk, banana, milk, etc to compensate for the fluid loss through sweat by indulging in such healthier and natural beverages.

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