Tag Archives: Gatorade

What Should You Drink INSTEAD of Gatorade?

I owe my readers an apology.  Last week I published a rather lengthy post detailing the reasons Gatorade isn’t really good for you.  I presented you with all of the problems of Gatorade.  I felt it was informative and I hope you did too.  But I apologize because I didn’t offer a solution.  If you shouldn’t drink Gatorade, then what should you drink?

Well, to begin at the beginning, why do people think they need Gatorade in the first place?  It’s supposed to provide you with much-needed electrolytes that you lose during extended periods of intense exercise.  When we sweat for long periods of time (over an hour), we lose water, sodium, potassium, and calcium, the three key electrolytes in our bodies.  Chugging the magic Gatorade is supposed to replenish what we lose during exercise.  But if you read the post, Gatorade is nothing but non-carbonated soda.  It’s loaded with HFCS and other junk and is far from natural.

Most experts, including yours truly, will tell you that you don’t need an electrolyte recovery drink unless you’re exercising at an relatively intense level for more than 75 minutes.  Anything below this and you’re usually fine just hydrating and recovering with water (in addition to food of course).  Your body can get what it needs from the water and the nutrients in healthy food choices without the quick hit of a bottle of Gatorade or other sports drink.

So unless you’re training for or competing in a marathon, playing a long intense game of soccer or rugby, or your name is Dean Karnazes, you generally don’t need a sport drink for recovery.  But if you are crazy like me and you actually enjoy working out or running for more than 75 minutes at a clip or you plan to compete in such insane events as the Badwater Ultra or the Western States Endurance Run, here are a few links to some natural alternatives to Gatorade.  What do they have in common?  They’re concocted from all natural ingredients, many of which you have at home already, and all of which you can buy today at your local grocery store.

Organic Sports Drinks (Kitchen Table Medicine)

Screw Gatorade Part I and Part II (Road Cycler)

Three Recipes for Fast Recovery (Active)

In other recommended reading, fellow blogger Adam Reynolds just published an awesome article about the junk that’s in Red Bull on his blog, The Healthy Boy.  Check it out here.  I don’t drink Red Bull and I’m glad I don’t, especially after reading his post.

Hope these resources help you gain some healthy, natural alternatives to Gatorade or Powerade.  Have a great day!


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Filed under Nutrition

Don’t Be Fooled: Gatorade is Garbage

So what’s the real truth about Gatorade?  It’s all over the place.  We’re supposed to drink it during our workouts, our runs, and even for hangovers.  The world’s top athletes are endorsing it and even Tiger Woods has his very own line of Gatorade (okay, that doesn’t mean much anymore).  It’s an amazing concoction of electrolytes that provides hydration and increased performance for all of our athletic pursuits.  It makes us run faster, longer, jump higher, lift more weights, and recovery more quickly.
Or does it?

Is Gatorade really healthy for us?  Is it the true miracle drink that it’s marketed as?  Will it really make us perform better and longer than our non-Gatorade drinking competition?

Instead of giving you the answer, I’ll just present my case and you can decide.

Gatorade was invented at the sports laboratories at the University of Florida in 1965 and tested on the football team, the Florida Gators (hence the name Gatorade).  The original concoction consisted of water, sodium, sugar, potassium, phosphate, and lemon juice.  The football coach and his players hailed Gatorade as a savior to their hydration problems during hot summer workouts and the long, intense football season.

The Florida Gators went on to win the Orange Bowl in 1967 and gave credit to Gatorade as one of the reasons they won.  Thus began the national phenomenon and craze.  “I definitely don’t want to compete without Gatorade.  My competitor may be drinking it and I’ll be at a disadvantage” was the prevailing thought at the time.

I’m not a scientist, but I don’t doubt that this formula worked.  After all, Gatorade was made up of a couple of the most important electrolytes – sodium and potassium (others are calcium, magnesium, and chloride).  These help to replenish hydration levels after massive fluid loss during intense, prolonged exercise.

But, like everything else, someone along the way discovered that Gatorade could be produced less expensively by using artificial sweeteners and corn syrups.  Until this year, Gatorade’s top two ingredients were water and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the evil artificial sweetener that’s in everything these days from soda to bread.  In 2010, Gatorade changed its formula from HFCS to a sucrose-dextrose mix.  Same animal, different name.

So what exactly are we drinking when we pick up a bottle of the nectar?  Let’s look at Gatorade’s ingredients in comparison to the ingredients of Pepsi Cola.

Carbonated Water
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Caramel Color
Phosphoric Acid
Citric Acid
Natural Flavors

Sucrose Syrup
Glucose-Fructose Syrup
Citric Acid
Natural Flavors
Sodium Citrate
Monopotassium Phosphate

Turns out they’re strikingly similar, aren’t they?  True, Gatorade no longer has HFCS, but what do you think those other syrups are?  Yep, you guessed it.  They’re just manufactured corn syrups with different names, all made in the same factories with the same cheap corn used in HFCS.  And after reading the ingredient lists, does this still sound like something you want to suck down during a 10-mile run or an intense gym session?  Gatorade and soda aren’t too dissimilar when you really look at it.  Pump some carbonation into your bottle of Gatorade and it’s soda, isn’t it?

So why the hype?  Why does everyone think Gatorade is still the go-to beverage for increased athletic performance and hydration?

For the same reason we believe nearly everything else.  Marketing.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but Gatorade is manufactured by Quaker Oats, which is a division of Pepsi Co, who, along with Coca Cola, is one of the most successful marketing juggernauts of the past half century.  Their marketing campaign for Gatorade is genius.  It should be studied in every university marketing class across the country.  It’s strong, it’s omnipresent, it’s compelling, motivating – everything you want in a marketing message.

The new 2010 campaign, G-Series, outlines a 3-part strategy for performance.  Now, according to the marketing message, you’re supposed to drink Gatorade Prime before your workout, Gatorade Perform during your workout, and Gatorade Recover after your workout.  Are you kidding me?  It’s the same junk, just packaged and marketed differently?  You’re drinking non-carbonated soda.

So what’s this all mean?  I’m not telling you that you should never drink Gatorade, but next time you want to prepare yourself for a hard run or workout, think twice about what you’re putting into your body.  It’s nothing but non-carbonated soda with an impressive and frighteningly effective marketing campaign.


Filed under Food, Nutrition, Uncategorized