Is Gatorade Good For You?
Don’t you just love that moment after a hard session at the gym when you grab your water bottle and quench your first after pushing yourself to your limits?
I enjoy sometimes spicing things up and rather drink Gatorade Thirst Quencher than just water. But lots of people have asked me “is Gatorade good for you?”
Well, let’s look at the ingredients and then we decide if it’s good or bad. It contains water, sucrose (that’s just a fancy name for table sugar), dextrose, citric acid, natural flavor, sodium chloride (again, fancy name, plain ol’ table salt), sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, as well as some flavoring or coloring ingredients.
Some Gatorade flavor variations use brominated vegetable oil as a stabilizer. Already the sugar is a big warning sign, after That Sugar Film we’ve all kinda decided that sugar is about as a bad as being in cahoots with the devil. But, as they always say, everything in moderation.
Seems a lot of people think Gatorade is good for you
So, the first big warning sign is that although Gatorade is a great thirst quencher, it contains plenty of other things besides water. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the scientists spent years refining the formula to create a perfect sport drink.
A team of researchers at the University of Florida first developed the drink in 1965. Its main purpose was to replenish through a combination of water, carbohydrates and electrolytes. This combo was created after noticing that the student athletes lost a lot of essential bodily fluids while sweating during rigorous sport activities.
Over the years the drink has become very popular worldwide, currently it is being manufactured by PepsiCo and distributed in over eighty countries.
Gatorade competes with PowerAde, a Coca-Cola product, and Vitamin Water brands worldwide. In the UK it goes head to head with Lucozade Sport. Within the US, Gatorade accounts for roughly 75% market shares in the sports drink category.
Seeing that it is so popular, the question is Gatorade good for you, becomes a tricky subject. The debate sports drinks vs. water has been around for ages. Personally I am leaning towards the each to their own opinion. The choice would most definitely depend on your unique physical health situation.
For instance, if you struggle with high blood pressure, the salt content of Gatorade could be detrimental to your personal health. The same with the sugar content, not ideal for someone struggling with diabetics.
Interesting fact: in 1988 a Citrus Cooler flavor was introduced and became very popular in the early 1990’s when Michael Jordan, at the height of his NBA career, said it was his favorite flavor. They even put the claim on the packaging at the beginning of 1991, part of a ten year endorsement deal.
But is it really good for everyone?
Let’s look more closely why we might conclude that Gatorade is good for you. We all know that it is important to stay hydrated while exercising. Water is obviously the go-to form of hydration. What makes sport drinks more effective than pure h2o? They contain sugar and electrolytes like sodium and potassium, great for replacing all those important bodily fluids that you lose when engaging in longer and more strenuous exercise. Like I said, the scientists must have known what they were doing when they created the Gatorade formula.
Gatorade specifically targets athletes. It was developed to combat the loss of important fluids and electrolytes when perspiring too much. Not only is it marketed as a great thirst quencher, it’s also very effective to help rehydrate the body.
A study published in the April 2009 issue of “Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism,” discovered that drinking Gatorade during a prolonged period of cycling in the heat preserved leg muscles, which increased the endurance of cyclists during trial runs.
These results were compared to a group that drank only water. The conclusion was that the sodium concentration was specifically responsible for the results from the group drinking Gatorade.
Trick question, when else do you lose a lot of electrolytes? Yup, you guessed right, when you get the stomach flu. It’s a viral illness that usually lasts about a week, so you just have to weather the storm and wait for your anti-bodies to fight a good battle.
A study reported at the 2005 meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology found that Gatorade was very effective to help with rehydrating and treating diarrhea for kids suffering from stomach flu as well as for adults. The significant amounts of the electrolytes sodium and potassium in Gatorade, is similar to Pedialyte.
And now the flipside
Like I said, moderation is the key and the sugar content of Gatorade is definitely a concern for many. The American Heart Association recommends that women shouldn’t consume more than 24 grams of sugar per day and men no more than 36 grams.
How much sugar does Gatorade contain? A 16 ounce bottle contains 28 grams, instantly over the daily limit suggestion for women. Plus, the acidity in Gatorade is associated with dental erosion. Gatorade topped the list for the most damage to enamel and root surfaces in a study published by “Nutrition Research” in May 2008. And this was compared to a few other energy drinks, Coca-Cola and apple juice.
Another scary story in the Gatorade history, is that when it was first developed in 1965, it contained a toxin called cylamate. In the defense of the scientists, at that point they were unaware of cylamate’s toxicity. Luckily in 1970 researchers published a study showing a connection between cancer and cylamate in rats. Gatorade was reformulated straightaway to remove this toxin.
Don’t worry, the current Gatorade formula doesn’t contain this harmful carcinogen. But it proves that often food processors are unaware of the dangers some additives can cause. If you feel a little bit worried after that random fact, check out these homemade sports drink recipes.
Are you still wondering about that question, is Gatorade good for you? On another positive note, Gatorade changed the way scientists think about hydration because of the electrolytes it provides. Scientists used to recommend that athletes drink as much water as they can tolerate while exercising.
But it was found that people who followed this recommendation of drinking as much water as possible actually started to over hydrate and in the process lose electrolytes. So, a new strategy is advised, a combo of drinking an electrolyte replacement drink, such as Gatorade, and pure water.
Seems like the scales are leaning towards Gatorade being good for you.
We’ve now established that the electrolytes found in Gatorade is very handy. But to elaborate on its endurance enhancement, Gatorade helps your body to store more readily useable energy. It actively helps improve endurance exercise performance by providing your body with much needed fuel.
This was found in a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. It demonstrated that sports drinks, such as Gatorade, improve the rate of muscle glycogen storage. The breakdown of glycogen stored in your muscles is the primary fuel for any physical activities that lasts less than an hour.
Another study determined that drinking Gatorade can help you recover faster and perform better during short term intensive exercise. To prove the theory, subjects were given Gatorade as well as a placebo drink. When compared to the placebo, drinking Gatorade significantly reduced production of post exercise lactate and glucose levels.
The researchers determined that Gatorade effectively limits lactate accumulation in the muscles and also improves the cardiovascular responses. This is achieved by keeping the heart rate low and thus delaying the natural onset of fatigue.
Wrapping Up – Is Gatorade Good For You?
What do I think, is Gatorade good for you? I think that technology and scientific research has given us the chance to enhance our lives, to make life a little bit more bearable. Would I drink something that will put back all the valuable stuff I lost while sweating my arse off in the gym? If it’s available, why not!
Would I be chuffed to find out that the pleasant drink also helps me to recover faster after the grueling gym session? For sure! But would I go overboard and never drink another glass of water in my life and only swear by the wonder working power of this magic drink? Uhm, no, I don’t think so.