Gatorade: Benefits And Side Effects Of Ultimate Hydration Drink

This replenishing sports drink is your new best friend on your fitness journey.

Medically reviewed by Rowinda DimechRowinda Dimech, RDN
By Sindhu KogantiSindhu Koganti, Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

Gatorade, a beverage created to help a small football team, is now the most popular sports drink worldwide. This sports drink is also said to improve athletic performance. But is Gatorade good for you? This beverage is known for its rehydrating capabilities and contains carbohydrates and electrolytes. However, its high sugar content may cause some negative effects. So, who should consume it? What are all its ingredients? Are there any side effects associated with it? This article answers all your questions about Gatorade. Keep reading.

protip_icon Did You Know?
Gatorade was invented in 1965 by a group of scientists to tackle dehydration suffered by football players at the University of Florida. The drink gets its name from the sports team of the university, Florida Gators.

Health Benefits Of Gatorade

Woman drinking sports drink

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Gatorade replenishes the electrolytes and energy you lose during rigorous workouts and sports. A study conducted by the University of Iowa(USA) found that Gatorade may effectively treat dehydration(1). However, it is important to note that this study was conducted on people with viral gastroenteritis.

Remember, you should do intense exercise for more than 60 to 90 minutes before you drink Gatorade (2). The drink provides the essential nutrients that you lose through sweating. It is formulated mainly to help athletes maintain their energy and alertness. Studies suggest sports drinks may improve performance by providing carbohydrates, electrolytes, and other nutrients to the body (2).

Your performance may be impaired when you lose fluids more than 2% of your bodyweight (mainly through sweating) during an activity (2). Hence, staying hydrated is important for optimal athletic performance. Consuming sports drinks can help maintain your blood glucose levels and increase your exercise capacity (3).

A review published in the Journal of Athletic Training suggests that the potassium (electrolyte) content in Gatorade may help prevent muscle cramping during exercise (4).

Is Gatorade rich in essential nutrients? What are its contents? In the next section, we discuss the nutritional profile of Gatorade. Keep scrolling!

Gatorade Nutrition Facts

Sports drinks like Gatorade contain carbohydrates that support muscle activity. They help restore the sugars, salt, and water lost during physical activity. One bottle of Gatorade (609g) contains (5):

  •  Calories: 158
  •  Carbohydrates: 39.2g
  •  Sugars: 31.9g
  •  Sodium: 238 mg
  •  Potassium: 91.3 mg
  •  Phosphorus: 60.9 mg
  •  Calcium: 6.1 mg

Unless you are a fitness pro or a professional athlete, your body does not need sports drinks with electrolytes. If you are wondering what the important ingredients of Gatorade are, scroll down to know more.

Ingredients In Gatorade

  •  Sodium is one of the key electrolytes available in Gatorade. However, excess sodium intake is linked with high blood pressure (6). Some athletes may drink Gatorade to alleviate cramping as research has linked muscle pains to sodium losses (7).
  •  Potassium is another major electrolyte found in Gatorade. It is important for rehydrating and maintaining fluid balance (8).
  •  The sugars in Gatorade provide fast energy with their high carbohydrate content. However, this drink is most important for serious athletes who exercise with high intensity for extended periods.
  •  Gatorade also contains water, citric acid, and flavoring and coloring agents.

protip_icon Trivia
The initial batch of Gatorade tasted terrible. Mary Cade, the wife of Gatorade inventor, Robert Cade, suggested adding lemon juice to the drink to make it more palatable.

These are some important ingredients that are found in Gatorade. Is this sports drink good for everyone? Keep scrolling to find the answer.

Is Gatorade Good For You?

Gatorade sports drink

Image: Shutterstock

Not everyone needs or gets the full benefits from this high-energy electrolyte drink. Only athletes performing at a high level may need the sugar energy that Gatorade provides. Remember, only those people exercising strenuously for prolonged periods need electrolyte replenishment. Most casual drinkers of Gatorade don’t benefit from the added sugar and salt in their system.

It is best for the general population to avoid sugary sports drinks, and their excessive intake may have side effects. Listed below are some of the recorded adverse effects of consuming too much Gatorade. Check them out.

Side Effects Of Excessive Gatorade Intake

Sports drinks like Gatorade contain high levels of sugar and sodium, which have been proven to be harmful when taken in excess amounts.

According to the American Heart Association, intake of fewer than 1,500 mg per day of sodium is recommended for individuals (9). One bottle of Gatorade contains 238 mg of sodium, which is around 11%of the daily intake value.

Excess sugar can cause health problems in people who do not exercise very often. Excess intake of both sugar and salt can also lead to blood pressure issues, diabetes, and more (10), (11). However, athletes who do intense workouts can handle the added sugars.

Other side effects of Gatorade include:

1. May Lead To Weight Gain

Woman worried about weight gain

Image: Shutterstock

The sugar in Gatorade may lead to weight gain. A bottle of Gatorade gives you roughly 32g of sugar. This is not so bad if you exercise intensely and need to refuel. But remember, regular intake of foods rich in artificial sweeteners will make you gain weight (12), (13).

2. May Cause Dental Problems

Acidic sports drinks may increase the risk of tooth erosion. The sugars in these beverages may also contribute to cavities.

A review published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health suggests that the food dyes used in sports drinks may cause cancers and hypersensitivity reactions (14).

These are some side effects of drinking Gatorade excessively. In the next section, we discuss whether drinking Gatorade is safe for children. Keep reading!

Should Kids Have Gatorade?

Young girl drinking gatorade

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Most children don’t need to drink sports drinks like Gatorade. Experts suggest that parents limit their children’s intake of such drinks due to the presence of artificial colors and high sugar content. The high levels of sugar and sodium electrolytes in sports drinks can be harmful to children if consumed excessively. Gatorade is only useful for active adults and some very active kids (15).

Water is the best source of hydration for children. Also, eating fresh fruits and vegetables can help them get the required amount of carbohydrates and electrolytes.

There are plenty of options to replace this high-sugar and calorie-rich sports drink. Scroll down to learn more about substitutes for Gatorade.

Gatorade Replacement

Water infused with lemon and fruits

Image: Shutterstock

Water is the best option for hydrating your body. If you are bored of drinking water, try infusing it with lemon and other fruits. You can also drink (unsweetened) fruit juices.

Similarly, coconut water can be the best replacement drink for electrolytes (16). Gatorade contains more electrolytes than coconut water, but most people don’t need them.

Wondering if Gatorade and Powerade are the same? Find out the differences between these two beverages in the next section.

Gatorade Vs. Powerade

Both Gatorade and Powerade are designed for athletes. They share similarities as well as differences.

  •  Gatorade uses dextrose as the main sweetener while Powerade uses high-fructose corn syrup.
  •  Gatorade contains two electrolytes – sodium and potassium. Powerade uses the ION4 System, which provides magnesium, sodium, potassium, and calcium.
  •  These drinks contain the same amount of sugar per serving and have low-sugar and sugar-free versions in their product lineup.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Famous basketball player Michael Jordan was the first celebrity endorser of Gatorade.

The Final Takeaway

Gatorade is a high-energy sports drink. It contains carbs and electrolytes with rehydrating capabilities. Drinking Gatorade benefits your health in many ways. It may help treat dehydration, offer vital nutrients that you lose through sweating, improve performance, maintain blood glucose levels, increase exercise capacity, and help prevent muscle cramping during exercise. However, the high sodium and sugar levels in Gatorade may cause side effects if you consume it in excess amounts. The drink may also lead to weight gain and dental problems. Hence, consume it in moderation to enjoy its maximum benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to drink Gatorade daily?

Drink Gatorade only if you are doing intensive exercise daily.

Is Gatorade good for your kidneys?

No. Excessive use of Gatorade may lead to kidney issues. People with chronic kidney diseases should also avoid taking it.

Is Gatorade healthier than soda?

Though it contains more sugar, Gatorade is healthier than soda as it contains more electrolytes to rehydrate the body.

Do athletes actually drink Gatorade?

Yes, Gatorade is one of the leading sports drinks in the US.

Key Takeaways

  • Gatorade is a high-energy electrolyte drink that replenishes the electrolytes and energy lost during rigorous workouts and sports.
  • It is suitable to drink Gatorade after an intense exercise session of more than 60 to 90 minutes.
  • Gatorade, like other sports drinks, is high in sugar and sodium, which can be harmful when taken in excess amounts and may lead to side effects like weight gain and dental erosion.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Oral rehydration for viral gastroenteritis in adults: a randomized controlled trial of 3 solutions
  2. Role of Functional Beverages on Sport Performance and Recovery
  3. Fluids and hydration
  4. Influence of Hydration and Electrolyte Supplementation on Incidence and Time to Onset of Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps
  5. Sports drink PEPSICO QUAKER GATORADE GATORADE fruit-flavored ready-to-drink [thirst quencher]
  6. Sodium Intake and Hypertension
  7. Sodium Replacement and Plasma Sodium Drop During Exercise in the Heat When Fluid Intake Matches Fluid Loss
  8. Factors influencing the restoration of fluid and electrolyte balance after exercise in the heat
  9. Sodium and health—concordance and controversy
  10. Controversies about sugars: results from systematic reviews and meta-analyses on obesity cardiometabolic disease and diabetes
  11. Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases
  12. Effects of artificial sweeteners on body weight food and drink intake
  13. Association of sports drinks with weight gain among adolescents and young adults
  14. Toxicology of food dyes
  15. Energy and sports drinks in children and adolescents
  16. Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men
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