So.. I have fear that I’m going to upset someone with this post. Gatorade. We all love it, right? We grew up drinking it – it was on the sidelines of our favorite team sports, it’s a “healthy alternative” to soda, and it followed us into our college years to cure a hangover. As a distance runner, I know that I have Gatorade at my water stops, and even on occasion have the Gatorade chews as fuel. But… what’s in this stuff, anyway? For those of you who didn’t know, the Pepsi people own the Gatorade brand – so if a soda maker is also making your “healthy alternative”, there might be a reason to take a deeper look.
This is based on the Orange flavored (my fav!) Thirst Quencher – found here.
Ingredients: water, sugar, dextrose, citric acid, natural flavors, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, gum arabic, sucrose acetate isobutyrate (<- what the hell?), glycerol ester of rosin, yellow 6.
So… water = good.
Sugar – second ingredient, which means there’s a lot in there. Refined sugar = spiked insulin levels and fat storage.
Dextrose – more processed sugar.
Citric Acid – processed preservative used for flavor.
Natural Flavors – I am curious to see if I can write one blog throughout these 40 days without THIS being in there… whatever the hell this is.
Salt – sugary and salty.. just like a chocolate covered pretzel.
Sodium Citrate – used to regulate acidity. This is our good old friend who is also used in medication.
monopotassium phosphate – used as a source of potassium, but this is an additive or preservative.
gum arabic – added stabilizer, basically keeping all the sugar from just sinking to the bottom of the drink. Fun fact; this is used in shoe polish ;). As far as the research goes for this one, there isn’t a lot out there, and no negative side effects that I could find. I try live by the “if our food didn’t have it 100 years ago, it doesn’t need it now” rule, but that choices is yours!
sucrose acetate isobutyrate – this was fun for me, because as I mentioned before, most crap ingredients are used over and over again, so the research gets a bit boring – not today! But… I was quickly disappointed because there’s not a lot out there (the problem with lab made ingredients without time to watch the effects on the body). Appears to be an additive used as an emulsifier and weighing agent, based on some extensive Googling. Also has no studies of short term toxicity or health problems in animal studies that I could find. Again, your call – but we didn’t need it before (and we still don’t!).
glycerol ester of rosin – used to keep everything mixed evenly in the drink. Again, not a ton of research, but while digging around – I did find this article. You can take the time to read it if you care, but the point that I took from it was this; Europe takes time to evaluate additives BEFORE adding them to their food. Why is it that we are hearing things like “BVO is being taken out of products because of ill effects” on consumers? I guess my confusion is why they are even doing animal studies on these additives, when they have us! If you don’t want to read the article, the important take away here is that this product is not allowed in Europe or Australia because of “lack of testing”
yellow 6 – lots of different yellows, but it is added food coloring which has been linked to lots of sensitivities and health concerns. Check out some here (note, these are posted opinions from those affected).
Nutrition label; Calories 80 – Total Fat 0g – Sodium 160mg – Potassium 45mg – Carbs 21g – Sugar 21g – Protein 0g.
It should be noted that those reflect 1 serving, and the bottles that most of us grab are 2.5 servings – so more than double.
Again, if you choose to ignore the potentially harmful chemicals in your sports drink – the issue is this; we have encouraged the use of gatorade or others like powerade as an “anytime” beverage. The amount of electrolytes in these drinks are made for MOVING. The only time large amounts of sugar and carbs in a beverage are necessary is when you are fueling or refueling your body from lots of work. So, first tip – when you are having dinner and then going to bed, or basically anytime you have a drink that doesn’t involve a football game or marathon to follow, water should be your best friend.
For those of you wondering about those times that you are going to be doing some endurance activity, there are better options (in my opinion). The reason for these sugary drinks is fuel. So… carbs = sugar. Sugar = energy. Water = hydration. With those things in mind, here are some options.
Coconut water – will hydrate you the same as water, and is filled with natural sugar (not the refined, processed kind) to keep your energy levels high and potassium, which helps to balance out the sodium in your body that builds up in your body during that endurance activity.
Fresh fruit juice AND water – the same info applies to fruit juice; it’s high in natural sugar and also rich in potassium. However, one glass or fruit juice won’t hydrate you properly from something intense – so be sure to also add water!