Gatorade and Powerade drinks are touted as powerful moisturizers capable of enhancing the body’s water absorption processes. However, this is not necessarily true.
Both Gatorade and Powerade are energy drinks of water, salts, and sugars. At the same time, they can be beneficial for a high performance athlete; for most people, they are not.
This article details the composition of Gatorade – Powerade drinks. What are the benefits and contraindications of taking them?
Is it good or bad to take Gatorade – Powerade?
In the middle of the last century, specialists from the Sports Science Institute of South Africa affirmed that drinking energy drinks while running positively affects sports performance.
However, this claim was partially denied by these same scientists sometime later. (1)
The energy drink industries took this as an opportunity to do extensive marketing campaigns. They even funded studies that evaluated the effects of Gatorade and Powerade, where they confirmed more than ten benefits and virtually no contraindications. (1)
These investigations were carried out with high-performance athletes. Now is this so?
Current research without conflicts of interest affirms that drinking these beverages for the average athlete is practically the same as drinking water. (4.8)
Not drinking enough fluids during a marathon or intense training has hurt performance. (4)
The term “liquid” refers to drinking both water and energy drinks (Gatorade-Powerade), but the difference in benefits is not significant.
In short, taking Gatorade is good if you will run a marathon. If you are going to sit still, you are adding unnecessary sugar to your body.
If use becomes abuse, it can lead to damage and side effects. One of the contraindications of an excess of Gatorade and Powerade is an increased risk of forming kidney stones, and because it contains sugar, its lot could cause weight gain or diabetes. (8)
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Benefits of Gatorade – When is it useful?
When a professional athlete performs long-term cardio sessions, he can lose up to 1.5 – 2.0 kg of body weight due to dehydration.
This situation can negatively affect performance. Blood flow is reduced, and the temperature rises dramatically. In these cases, taking Gatorade or Powerade can benefit the body.
Studies that have evaluated this effect in the average athlete have found virtually no difference in hydration compared to taking Gatorade with drinking water. (4,5,8)
In other words, the beneficial effects of energy drinks in sports only apply to training sessions of more than 1 hour and a half. The purported benefits that a shot of Gatorade or other energy drinks lead to help in a short cardio session have been debunked by science.
Contraindications of Gatorade and Powerade
Energy drinks have simple carbohydrates in their composition. Like all sugar, it provides energy to the muscles. However, if your goal is to burn fat, taking Gatorade will take you in the opposite direction.
By taking Gatorade, the burning of fat stores is blocked for at least 30 minutes. In a bottle of any isotonic drink, there are 30-40 g of sugar; to burn the calories contained in 500 mL of Gatorade, you have to run for about 40 minutes (2).
While taking Gatorade is considered safe. Taking Gatorade or Powerade frequently is not recommended for:
- People with hypertension
- People allergic to dyes such as tartrazine
Energy drinks vs. electrolytes vs. isotonic
Electrolyte drinks and sports drinks can be the same—the key: is concentration. When we talk about an isotonic drink, the prefix iso refers to the same. In this case: the same as the concentration of salts in the cell interior.
An electrolyte drink can be either hypotonic (less) or hypertonic (more), or isotonic (the same), depending on the number of salts added to it. (7) Regarding the energy term, it refers to the contribution of calories; as long as there are carbohydrates, all are considered energy drinks.
The electrolytes are essential nutrients for humans. They are necessary to maintain a correct balance of cellular hydration. The central nervous system fulfills critical functions related to the functioning of the heart. (5) The most abundant electrolytes in the human body are sodium and potassium.
Are Powerade and Gatorade Zero fattening?
The Coca-Cola company indirectly confessed that energy drinks contain excessive sugar. So it has started to produce its low-calorie and no-carbohydrate variants such as Powerade Zero (3).
These versions contain sugar substitutes such as cyclamate, aspartame, or sucralose. Although they do not provide calories, they stimulate the brain to become dependent on the sweet taste. The brain expects energy; if it does not get it from some source, it can cause the extra consumption of carbohydrates. (9.10).
If the goal is to lose weight, taking Gatorade or Powerade is not recommended.
Gatorade vs Coca Cola
Dr. Carl Heneghan of Oxford University states that there is almost only one difference between consuming energy drinks like Gatorade and sodas like Coca-Cola: not having gas. Research by Carl confirms that the benefits of energy drinks have only been proven in athletes and professional athletes (1).
In the case of Coca-Cola, the situation may be worse. The secret of Coca-Cola is that its salt content is higher than that of the cell’s interior, which translates as increased dehydration.
The high sugar and caffeine content creates the effect of wanting more and more. Due to numerous lawsuits in the US today, in cinemas and fast food places, it is required to serve it with ice to dilute it and reduce this effect.
Gatorade Advertising A Big Scam?
The European Food Safety Authority organization evaluated more than 100 claims found in Gatorade advertising. This organization confirmed only 6 of the total of 100.
One of the claims is that drinking electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade has a positive effect when doing high-performance workouts such as HIIT during sessions longer than 60 minutes.
The president of this organization, Dr. Albert Flynn, told the BBC that the manufacturers of energy drinks mislead consumers. Showing in Gatorade advertising only the effects on professional athletes (1). While all of these processes are legal, it is vital to discern between an advertising scam and actual benefits to the body.
The benefits of energy drinks in sports are questionable. They apply only to high-performance professional athletes.
The benefits of Gatorade and Powerade energy drinks apply only to high-performance athletes. After a 60-minute cardio training session, no substantial difference should be expected from drinking water.
While taking Gatorade for running is not bad. In short, workouts, drinking Gatorade, and water is the same.