When training for a significant period of time, your body needs fuel and hydration to keep going. This can come in the form of a sports drink such as Gatorade, which was created in the 1960s for the University of Florida football team -- the Gators -- hence, the name. Not everyone needs to refuel with a sports drink, however, which can be high in calories and sugar.
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Pros of Gatorade
Gatorade not only helps you stay hydrated -- it can also boost your energy level by providing you with carbohydrates. Eight ounces of Gatorade provides nearly 16 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Gatorade also replenishes lost electrolytes, which is particularly important if you lose a lot of sodium through sweat. If you’re concerned about the calories, Gatorade offers a low-calorie beverage as part of its G Series Fit 02 Perform, which has only 19 calories per 8 ounces, and fewer carbohydrates, as well.
Cons of Gatorade
Gatorade certainly isn’t a miracle drink. You’ll take in 63 calories per 8 ounces of regular Gatorade, and the majority of those calories are from sugar. This sugar has an effect on your teeth, as a study published in 2007 in “The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice,” determined that Gatorade was more corrosive to your chompers than Coca-Cola, though not as problematic as Red Bull, which is an energy drink. Additionally, sports drinks might not prevent hyponatremia, which is an abnormally low amount of sodium in the blood. A 2005 study from “The New England Journal of Medicine” found that around 13 percent of runners in the Boston Marathon had a degree of hyponatremia, and it didn’t matter if they had consumed sports drinks or water while running.
Gatorade vs. Water
Gatorade provides advantages over water if you think you need to replenish sodium or if you’re working out for a significant period of time, such as 60 minutes or more, particularly in a hot or humid climate. For most people, however, water is the way to go. It will keep you hydrated and won’t add extra calories or sugar to your diet. If you decide to stick with Gatorade, registered dietitian Andrea Chernus told "Men's Fitness" that the best option is Gatorade G -- the original formula of the sports drink.
Decide If You Really Need Gatorade
Before you slurp back the Gatorade, double check to ensure that it’s what’s best for your body. First, check your sweat rate -- if you arrive home after a run or workout dripping in sweat, then you’re more likely to have lost electrolytes during your workout. Additionally, consider the length of your workout. If you had a pre-workout snack or meal, you don’t need any extra carbs for at least 60 to 90 minutes, according to registered dietitian Nancy Clark in “Fitness” magazine.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice: The Erosive Potential of Soft Drinks on Enamel Surface Substrate: An In Vitro Scanning Electron Microscopy Investigation
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Basic Report:14460, Beverages, PEPSICO QUAKER, Gatorade, G performance O 2, ready-to-drink.
- Fitness: The New Power Brew: Do Energy Drinks Really Work?
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Basic Report: 14644, Beverages, , PEPSICO QUAKER, Gatorade G2, low calorie
- The New England Journal of Medicine: Hyponatremia among Runners in the Boston Marathon
- Harvard Medical School: Trade Sports Drinks for Water
- Men's Fitness: Sports Drinks vs. Water
- Iowa State University: Fluids