Gatorade vs. water. It’s a complicated debate. But let’s be honest, the flavorful goodness of Gatorade makes it a delicious alternative to water. Many of us especially like to reach for Gatorade in the warmer months to cool down in the heat. Others might choose to enjoy a bottle after a strenuous workout. Outside of our personal use, Gatorade is what we see athletes like Serena Williams drinking on the tennis court, and it’s what teams pour on their coaches after winning a championship.
But in the Gatorade vs water debate, who is the clear victor? Which option is better for quenching thirst and hydrating your body? We’ll provide you with answers in this article. But first, let’s take a closer look at Gatorade and its ingredients.
Reviewing Gatorade: History and Ingredients
Lots of people point to Gatorade as being the first distributor of modern sports drinks. The company is deeply embedded in the athletic arena and has a presence at many large sporting events. Its history goes back to 1965. This was when the University of Florida’s head football coach sat down with the school’s team of physicians and physicists to see how they could help reduce the impact of heat on his athletes. His team got to work and soon after, Gatorade was born. In the beginning, it was nothing more than water, salt, lemon flavoring, and sugar.
So, What’s Inside a Bottle of Gatorade in 2021?
The simple answer is sweet goodness. The more complex answer is electrolytes and other vitamins and minerals. One of the sports drink’s biggest ingredients is water itself. However, Gatorade’s sugar levels leave the sports drink at a disadvantage in the Gatorade vs water debate. According to the Harvard Health Blog, Gatorade can have up to 150 calories a bottle. That’s the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Some of the basic ingredients you can find in a sports drink like Gatorade include:
- Vitamins and Minerals
- Amino Acids
Gatorade drinks, like the popular lemon-lime Gatorade Thirst Quencher, have the following ingredients:
- Water. Good old H2O leads the ingredient list. It’s the ultra hydrator and is needed to replace the water we lose from sweating.
- Sugar. While this may be a more controversial ingredient, it helps your body retain energy. It also aids in water absorption.
- Dextrose. Often referred to as a simple sugar, this ingredient comes from corn and is a carbohydrate. Dextrose can also serve as an artificial sweetener.
- Citric Acid. This ingredient derives from lemons and limes. It’s commonly used to enhance flavor and encourage energy production and nutrient replenishment in the body.
- Natural Flavor.
- Salt. According to Gatorade, the company includes salt in their sports drink to replace the significant amount of sodium an athlete loses during a workout. It also helps the body retain fluid and successfully rehydrate. Read more about salt’s important role here.
- Sodium Citrate. Different products use this additive in food to enhance flavor. In beverages, sodium citrate produces a tart flavor.
- Monopotassium Phosphate. This ingredient is a type of soluble salt that commonly serves as a food additive.
- Gum Arabic. Gum arabic is also commonly found in food, especially candies and ice cream. Some of its roles include a natural thickening agent and a glue that holds different ingredients together.
- Glycerol Ester of Rosin. This additive helps Gatorade keep oils spread throughout the beverage.
- Yellow 5. This is artificial coloring. The color will vary depending on the flavor of Gatorade.
- Every bottle of Gatorade contains what the company refers to as “critical electrolytes.”
The Benefits of Electrolytes
Gatorade is a fantastic replenisher of electrolytes. Water, on the other hand, is not.
Exercising and moving our bodies makes us sweat. This leads to the loss of hydration and other important minerals that help our body function. Sweating also makes us lose electrolytes. The most common electrolytes we sweat are sodium and chloride. While sweating is a natural human trait, we need to reverse the loss of electrolytes happening during perspiration.
What Happens When You Lose Too Much Water and Electrolytes
Replacing electrolytes is critical because they play an important role in keeping things balanced in our bodies. Without electrolytes, you may experience problems with your heart beat, blood pressure, and overall breathing. Additionally, these unique, electrically charged compounds and minerals work in tandem with water. They mix with water and create electricity, which “powers” your body.
Losing too much water and electrolytes can cause other symptoms such as:
- Fatigue. Fatigue is often a result of an electrolyte imbalance, most specifically a lack of magnesium.
- Muscle Cramping. A muscle cramp is often a painful experience. The sudden imbalance of electrolytes can trigger cramping. This symptom is likely one reason so many athletes choose to hydrate with sports drinks like Gatorade.
- Diarrhea, Constipation, and Kidney Problems. We know, gross. However, if your body runs low on electrolytes, you may notice these symptoms.
- Dehydration. Yes, you can drink a ton of water, but if you don’t likewise replace your electrolytes, you may still suffer from dehydration.
Some important electrolytes to have in your body include: bicarbonate, calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, and sodium.
Gatorade vs Water: Gatorade Is an Electrolyte Replenisher
Gatorade’s ability to replenish our electrolytes makes it an excellent option for drinking during a marathon or after an intense workout lasting at least an hour. This is likely when your body needs more hydration with electrolytes and glucose. In other words, a short walk around the neighborhood or a handful of jumping jacks likely doesn’t call for a Gatorade. But an activity that leaves you sweating profusely can be met with a sports drink. Learn more about the differentiation between hydrating with water and sports drinks like Gatorade here.
Let’s Talk About Water
Water is essential. We need it to function and remain healthy. Unlike Gatorade, it doesn’t have a lot of sugar. This means rehydrating with water won’t lead to high blood sugar, excessive calorie consumption, weight gain, or even tooth decay. It’s a natural aid for energizing our muscles and makes up to 60% of our body. Here are some easy ways you can naturally enhance the flavor of your water.
Therefore, we constantly need to replenish our body with this fluid to prevent dehydration. We also need to drink water to help different parts of our body fulfill their natural roles. While Gatorade is great to bring to an hours-long kickboxing class, water is simply always critical to have around no matter where you go or what you’re doing.
Not sure how many glasses of water you should drink per day? Read our guide for quick answers.
Who Wins the Water vs Gatorade Debate?
Water is the clear winner here. Don’t get us wrong, there’s certainly a time and a place for Gatorade. Reports show that sports drinks like Gatorade can be better for drinking before or after an extended period of activity. Or after sweating a lot. So if you’re running a marathon, training extensively, or simply moving your body for a long period, then it makes sense to drink a Gatorade.
But because of the sports drink’s sugar, carbohydrates, and food dyes, you should only drink the beverage on the right occasion. In contrast, you can enjoy a glass of water anytime. Therefore, it’s the ultimate thirst quencher.
Quench Your Thirst With Clean and Healthy Water From ONIT Home
Now that you know water is the best beverage to drink on any occasion, it’s important to make sure the H2O you’re hydrating with is healthy. If you’re drinking from the tap, the water you’re using may have contaminants floating around. Or, if you’re buying bottled water, you’re probably paying up $27 a month for bottle packages. You may also be contributing to plastic waste.
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