It’s interesting that we think of Gatorade as a sports drink. We have been conditioned to think that there are ‘electrolytes’ in Gatorade that help us stay hydrated during and after exercise. But is this really true? Are we really getting the proper nutrition to help with hydration or is there a better alternative? Let’s start by taking a look at the ingredients in a 20oz bottle of Gatorade (see chart below). Sound healthy? That’s because it’s not.
The human body is an electrical machine, in the sense that our cells interact with each other through electrical signals to maintain homeostasis (equilibrium). Electrolytes are minerals that help to regulate our nerve and muscle function, our body’s pH, blood pressure, and the rebuilding of damaged tissue. The primary four electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The body’s electrolyte levels can change when our hydration is altered, such as when we exercise. A muscle contraction needs electrolyte levels to be in proper balance, or else the muscles either become too weak or their contractions become too severe. Gatorade contains only one of the four main electrolytes that our body needs to function properly and has an incredible amount of sugar (34g/bottle) that can lead to energy ‘crashes’ during performance. This is not good. In fact, it’s really, really bad.
Luckily, there is an alternative that can serve to give us the electrolytes we need during exercise to keep us at peak performance. The solution is coconut water, considered to be nature’s gatorade. Coconut water contains all four of the main electrolytes we need. It also has much less sugar than Gatorade. In terms of hydration in the context of sports, there is no comparison. I will admit however, that coconut water is an acquired taste. I really didn’t like it at first. I thought it tasted like feet. However, after about the fifth try, I grew to not only love it but crave it after exercise. Coconut water: it’s so hot right now.
Gatorade: lemon-lime flavor (20oz)
Ingredients: WATER, SUCROSE, DEXTROSE, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVOR, SALT, SODIUM CITRATE, MONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, GUM ARABIC, GLYCEROL ESTER OF ROSIN, YELLOW 5.
Coconut Water (14oz)
Ingredients: COCONUT WATER
~Noah Kaplan D.C.
P.S. My wife and I both think Zico is the best brand