Gatorade vs. Water: Which Is Better For My Use Case?

On the one hand, we have Gatorade – one of the most popular sports beverages on the market. But, on the other hand, we also have the age-old H2O. So, which is best for you?

Key Takeaways:

The main difference between Gatorade and Water is the ingredients and the nature of the drink. Gatorade is a sports drink with salts and sugars, while water is a plain rehydrating drink necessary for our biological functions.

Read on to learn more about water and Gatorade and the detailed comparison of both of them.

What’s The Difference Between Gatorade And Water?

The ingredients in Gatorade are as follows:

  • Water
  • Dextrose
  • Sugar
  • Natural Flavor
  • Red 40
  • Citric Acid
  • Glycerol Ester Of Rosin
  • Caramel Color
  • Salt
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Monopotassium Phosphate
  • Modified Food Starch

On the other hand, the water we get from our taps is only a combination of H2O and trace quantities of electrolytes like chlorine, sodium, etc.

Another difference between water and Gatorade is that Gatorade is loaded with sugar and electrolytes meant to rapidly restore our body’s electrolyte levels. On the other hand, water is a zero-carb drink that is good for hydration in normal circumstances.

Does Gatorade Hydrate You Better Than Water?

Different hydration strategies will be optimal depending on the duration and intensity of your activity. Just water, or do you need anything else? Or maybe a sports drink would be preferable? And if you do choose the latter, are you simply gulping down calories? 

Except when participating in strenuous physical activity, water is preferable to sports beverages like Gatorade.

The American Heart Association advises not having more than 36 grams of added sugar as a man, and the limit is 25 grams of sugar per day for women.

Some sports drinks contain more than 30 grams of sugar, and if you’re simply going for a forty-five-minute easy cycle, you may not need its carb and electrolyte-heavy fuel.

Sodium, phosphorus, and potassium are crucial electrolytes (minerals) that assist control things like your nerves, muscles, and hydration levels—that help fuel your rides. 

Both sodium and potassium aid in muscular contraction, and phosphorus has been found to improve aerobic capacity.

Though carbohydrates like sugar have a negative reputation, they are necessary for your body if you do a lot of activities like riding.

Your body uses carbohydrates for energy. And the glucose in your blood and the glycogen in your muscles will be used first.

However, your muscles can only store so much glycogen, so you’ll need to consume something extra, such as a sports drink, to prevent your blood sugar from dropping. 

When you’re working out, you need an immediate infusion of energy, so the extra sugars in sports drinks aren’t always bad if consumed on occasion. 

In short, an energy boost from a sports drink is helpful if you plan on working out for more than 60–90 minutes or at a strenuous level for 45–60 minutes. In addition, you may find that doing so boosts your performance as well.

Water is sufficient for hydration during a shorter, less strenuous exercise since your body won’t lose as many electrolytes as you’d need a sports drink to replace. A sports drink would only add calories from sugar without providing any meaningful benefits.

Gatorade vs. Water: Which Is Better For My Use Case?

Working at DeskWater
Gaming Water
High-intensity sports Gatorade
Running Gatorade or Water(Or even Gatorade diluted with water)

How Do Gatorade And Water Compare Nutritionally?

Gatorade NutritionAmountsServing SizeWater NutritionAmountServing Size
Calories1401 Bottle (591 ml)Calories08 fl oz (237 g)
Sodium270 mgSodium9.48 mg
Potassium80 mgPotassium0 mg
Sugar34 gSugar0 g
Carbohydrate36 gCarbohydrate0 g

So as you can see from the above chart of nutrition fact comparison, water is a zero-calorie beverage with no sugar and carbohydrate content. Although it does have some quantities of sodium, it doesn’t have any potassium content.

On the other hand, Gatorade has sodium, potassium, sugars as well as carbs. That’s why it is beneficial to quickly boost your energy and electrolyte levels after intense workout sessions.

That said, water has its value. And if, after simple body workouts, you want to replenish your energy levels, all the added sugars and salts in Gatorade could be overkill. So depending on the purpose, you can choose the drinks wisely.

How Does The Body Absorb Water And Gatorade?

Water Absorption:

Keep yourself hydrated throughout and after cardio-intensive activity by consuming water on an empty stomach. Then, in as little as five minutes, the water will have made its way through your stomach and large intestine and into your circulation.

If you drink the same quantity of water during or after a meal, it may take your body anywhere from 45 to 120 minutes to absorb it! No matter how careful you are, you won’t be able to prevent part of the water you consume from leaving your body in your urine and feces 😉

Gatorade Absorption:

Sodium and glucose are both present in sufficient quantities in Gatorade (sugar). Further, glucose is adored by the intestines.

Small intestinal transporters will absorb the glucose and then absorb the salt. Water is taken in along with the glucose and salt, and then Bang! You are rehydrating more quickly now.

The salt in Gatorade reduces the frequency with which you have to go to the bathroom to urinate (you may remember this effect from your osmosis studies in high school). The presence of salt causes water to collect in that area.

Compared to water, Gatorade’s longer life allows more time for the fluid to be absorbed and restore equilibrium more quickly.

Can You Survive Drinking Gatorade Alone?

Athletes can speed up their recovery time with the aid of Gatorade after strenuous training or competition. The majority of us, though, is not even remotely that active. So what would exactly happen if you only drank Gatorade?

To begin with, your body just cannot process that much sugar. Additionally, we also know that consuming a lot of sugar can lead to health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.

Plus, think about the damage that sugar might cause to your teeth. This is because bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar and produce acid that affects the enamel on your teeth.

In addition, Gatorade is often recommended for use when you are sick, but have you ever tried it? Is that what you think, too?

To rehydrate, water was apparently sufficient before the invention of Gatorade. So if you have lost a lot of fluids due to a high temperature, vomiting, or diarrhea, drinking Gatorade may help replenish those fluids. It’s like a pharmacy for getting over the flu. 

Still, medical professionals agree that the tried-and-true home remedies of drinking lots of fluids will speed up recovery time.

let’s assume you only drank it now and then, you most likely won’t have any issues. But if you keep drinking it, you risk major health problems down the road.

Take a moment to picture yourself severely overweight and suffering from tooth decay. The key is the amount of sugar and salt in the beverage. Simply put, it’s excessive for the vast majority of people.

But there are times when Gatorade isn’t a bad idea. It helps replace fluids and electrolytes; useful after strenuous exercise or sport.

Can I Drink Gatorade Instead Of Water When Sick?

According to an article published in Science Daily, Sports drinks like Gatorade are not ideal for consumption at times when you are sick.

The science news release was published in Science Daily in 2018. In that, an incident is highlighted in which hospitals were using sports drinks. Unfortunately, due to the effect of Hurricane Maria back then, the supply chain was affected.

However, an MS Pharmacy Professor, John D. Bauman, highlights that for dehydration brought on by sickness, the main problem with drinks like Gatorade is that they are overly sweet and lack adequate salt (sodium) and potassium that the body needs.

After strenuous activity, sports drinks may be safe for healthy people, but they shouldn’t be consumed by anybody who has sickness like diarrhea or vomiting.

He also adds that dehydration is more likely to cause serious symptoms in young children and the elderly, and treating the condition with sports drinks, chicken soup, or other home treatments may make it worse.

Oral rehydration salts (ORS) are a therapy for intestinal flu and dehydration suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO). The components you may need to help with recovery are probably already in your kitchen cupboard. Bowman recommends using this treatment.

On the topic of salt, I recently wrote two articles addressing salt in beverages. I highly recommend reading them.

  1. Why Salt Is in Sports Drinks Like Gatorade
  2. LMNT vs. Gatorade: Analysis of Key Benefits & More LMNT(pronounced limit) is a salt-based pre-mixed powder hydration drink with 1000mg of salt per sachet. I know that sounds like a crazy amount of salt, but the company has interesting research to back up some of the key benefits of this drink.

Gatorade vs. Water: What Do Redditors Think?

The general consensus among Redditors is that you should consume sports drinks like Gatorade when you need to replenish electrolytes quickly. This is to avoid any chances of cramping.

They highlight that for less intense activities like simply watching TV or working, you don’t need drinks like Gatorade. (Water should be sufficient in such cases).

No matter what benefits sports drinks have, they are a mixture of salt, sugar, and water at the end of the day.

Unless your body’s electrolytes and energy reserves run out, you don’t need any outside supplementary source. Plain water and your diet should be enough to keep you up with the necessary levels of electrolytes and sugars.

Source: Reddit – Is Drinking Gatorade Better Than Drinking Water?

Final Verdict – Is It Better To Drink Gatorade Than Water?

In short, drinking Gatorade or water mainly boils down to a specific purpose. For athletic purposes and intense workouts, Gatorade is preferable. However, for regular rehydration purposes, water is the best choice.

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A high-pressure work environment and crazy lifestyle turned me into a caffeinated AF nut. This is my journey to a more balanced lifestyle. Dejittr

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