Is Gatorade Good For You?

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: November 3, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.

One of the most renowned energy drinks worldwide, Gatorade was made in 1965 to combat dehydration amongst the football team Florida Gators (hence the drink’s name). 

Researchers at the University of Florida created an energy drink that was non caffeinated and non-carbonated while high in sodium and potassium. 

Nearly 60 years later, Gatorade has become one of the most widely consumed energy drinks. Currently manufactured by PepsiCo, the drink has an array of natural, fruity flavors, each artificially colored to make the drink more attractive. 

People love this energy drink primarily because they believe it replenishes your electrolytes and boosts your hydration.

But is Gatorade good for your health, or do its disadvantages outweigh the benefits? Keep reading, and we’ll give you the answers.

Is Gatorade Healthy?

Gatorade on the store shelves

Gatorade can be considered healthy as it contains electrolytes to enhance physical exercise. However, it also has high amounts of sugar, which can be dangerous for people with health issues. Consuming excessively, Gatorade can lead to weight gain and health risks, but if you consume it moderately, it is healthy.

Gatorade is considered a sports drink and is widely consumed among athletes—the first of them being the members of the Florida Gators team. After a group of scientists at the University of Florida started making Gatorade for the Gators, the latter won the Orange Bowl in 1967 for the first time in several years. 

It was assumed the sports drink was doing its job, and its popularity soon caught on among other athletes.

As the drink contains electrolytes, it provides significant amounts of energy and hydration to the drinker. However, due to a rapid increase in people’s intake of sugary drinks, they often mistake Gatorade as a healthy alternative. This often leads to people replacing their overconsumption of other sugary drinks with Gatorade.

But here’s the catch—Gatorade is also concentrated in sugar, and its overconsumption can increase your chances of becoming obese or diabetic. 

The purpose of this drink is to help serious athletes perform better. Therefore, going feral on your consumption of this beverage is not recommended if you’re neither an athlete nor a gym enthusiast.

As the Center for Science in the Public Interest documented, consuming sugary drinks has several negative health impacts, including heart disease and tooth decay. 

For athletes who practice for hours at a time, Gatorade does its job: it helps the body regain lost fluid and restores electrolytes like potassium and sodium. The sugar content gives an additional energy boost as well. If you’re feeling under the weather due to an illness—like when you have an upset stomach—-Gatorade can even replace lost electrolytes and get you to function again.

What’s In Gatorade?

Gatorade contains an amalgamation of sugar, electrolytes, and water. Sodium and potassium are the main electrolytes present in Gatorade. Since electrolytes leave your blood through your sweat, the drink is high in sugar to stabilize your blood sugar level. Gatorade also contains artificial food dyes like Red No. 40 and Blue No. 1.

Electrolytes are the minerals that keep your body’s ionic balance stable, which impacts your nerves, brain, and muscles. Coupled with carbohydrates, they help athletes rehydrate their bodies, regulating the liquid level in the body. In addition, carbohydrates provide energy and keep blood sugar in check.

Because of these added elements, Gatorade claims its drink is a better hydration source than water. According to a report from the University of California at Berkeley, sports drinks might just be better than water for people of all ages who engage in intense physical activity. The benefits are even more pronounced in extended exercise in hot weather.

Here’s a table detailing the amounts and types of sweeteners in Gatorade:

Type Of GatoradeSweetenerCarbohydratesTotal Calories
Gatorade Thirst QuencherSugar – 48g51g190
G2 Acesulfame, Sucralose  – 16g18g70
G ZeroSugar – 0g2g0
Gatorade EnduranceSugar – 26g44g180

All of the above contain sodium and potassium, with the highest quantity of both in Gatorade Endurance (620 mg sodium, 280 mg potassium) and the lowest in Gatorade Juiced (160 mg sodium, 60mg potassium).

Last but not least, food dyes such as Red No. 40, Blue No. 1, and Yellow No. 5 have been used in Gatorade, all of which are extracted from petroleum. As per the National Library of Medicine, these dyes have been found to cause hyperactivity and, more rarely, cancer symptoms.

Does Gatorade Have Caffeine?

Gatorade does not contain caffeine – it energizes the drinker using potassium, sodium, and carbohydrates alone. Some types include natural or artificial flavoring to make the drink taste better. The electrolytes work with the carbs to keep the consumer hydrated and help prevent muscle cramps during strenuous exercise.

blue gatorade with reeses

Does Gatorade Have Sugar?

Gatorade contains quantities of sugar that differentiate according to whatever version of the drink you are consuming. For example, G Zero has 0g of sugar, while Gatorade Thirst Quencher has a whopping 48 grams. 

For athletes participating in highly vigorous exercise, something like Gatorade Thirst Quencher or Gatorade Endurance is ideal, with their high sugar and electrolyte quantity.

On the other hand, a high school freshman skateboarding after school with his friends would be fine with a G Zero or a Gatorade Juiced. 

The more intense and prolonged your exercise, the more carbohydrates and electrolytes you can consume without any considerable damage to your health. 

Excessive Calorie Consumption

It’s no secret that the overconsumption of calories—especially for an extended period—can and will harm your health, especially since sugary drinks are often high in calories. 

Although carbonated drinks contain the most calories, natural beverages with high sugar concentrations, like Gatorade, are not far behind. Consuming excessive calories always puts your body weight and heart health at risk. Remember only to consume Gatorade intermittently. 

The Resulting Health Risks

A study by the New England Journal of Medicine in October 2012 found that people who drank sugary drinks were much more likely to become obese than those who didn’t. Interestingly, this study was conducted amongst 33,000 people with a genetic predisposition for obesity, so it was just the mere consumption of sugary beverages setting them apart!

Similarly, several studies conducted in November 2010 in Diabetes Care (and later analyzed by the National Library of Medicine)  proved that people who regularly consumed sugary drinks—including Gatorade—were 26% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who drank them, say, once a month. 

It is worth noting that this doesn’t just apply to sugar-sweetened drinks but also those with artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners aren’t as harmless as they seem. 

In November 2020, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology studied the link between the following three: cardiovascular disease, sugary drinks, and artificially sweetened drinks. To no one’s surprise, they found that both the consumers of sugar and artificially sweetened beverages have higher risks of cardiovascular disease.

Gatorade bottles displayed

Is Gatorade Good For Weight Loss?

Gatorade isn’t necessarily good for weight loss. However, there can be essential benefits from the electrolytes it provides. Keeping hydrated with any diet and workout regimen is critical. To lose the most weight, you must burn more calories than you consume, otherwise, you’re hindering your weight loss. Gatorade Zero is an option you may want to consider as an alternative to water if needed with zero calories and zero sugars. Whenever you are planning a meal plan or diet plan it is advised you first should consult with a professional.

Remember to pair the right type of exercise with the consumption of a sports drink. For example, running is a cardio workout that can burn several hundred calories in less than half an hour, whereas weight training burns half the calories in the same amount of time.

Therefore, consuming a sports drink would be detrimental rather than beneficial if you were to do so in a low-calorie burning workout. However, drinking a Gatorade would still keep you within a calorie deficit during a high-intensity cardio workout, considering you’re burning more than you’re consuming. 

Gatorade zero displayed in variety of flavors

Does Gatorade Help With Hangovers?

Gatorade is rich in electrolytes that help with headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches resulting from hangovers. These include sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Gatorade contains these electrolytes in a sugar-concentrated, water-based liquid, so it helps regulate fluid levels in the body and boosts recovery.

In addition, as Gatorade is packed with electrolytes and carbohydrates, it raises the blood sugar level, elevates the body’s sodium levels, and enables muscle cells to take in water. 

All in all, consuming a sports drink would make your rehydration process quicker and help stave away any dehydration-induced headache. 

Is Gatorade Vegan?

Traditional Gatorade sports drinks are free of meat, dairy, or derivatives. The sugar and sweeteners are obtained from different sources as well. Additionally, Gatorade sports drinks are certified Kosher, and PETA has it listed as vegan on its list of vegan drinks.

Being Kosher certified means the filtration process does not transfer any such substances into the final drink. Hence, Gatorade can be considered vegan. 

Conclusion

Gatorade is an excellent drink if you’re looking to rehydrate and boost your performance during strenuous, prolonged athletic activities. However, considering its high sugar concentration and the amounts of electrolytes, one should only indulge when necessary rather than at regular intervals.

Gatorade’s sugar and carb content can blur the line between healthy and unhealthy consumption, so you should be careful not to overconsume this beverage. No mindlessly sipping on a bottle now and then – save it for when you need it, or it’ll do you more harm than good.