The Effects of Gatorade on Exercise

Gatorade, the official sports drink of the NFL, NBA, NHL and a list of other collegiate and pro organizations, owns the reputation of “quenching the thirst” of athletes everywhere. Its key contents include water, sugar and electrolytes–sodium, potassium and chloride. As compared to other hydrating beverages, Gatorade tends to hold up its position as one of the leaders in athletic competition.

Provides Energy

The Gatorade website boasts that 6 percent of its beverage contains carbohydrates, which are a vital energy source for most forms of exercise. In fact, drinking Gatorade provides 14 grams (g) carbohydrates for every 8 oz. serving. Distance runners particularly depend on the calories from carbohydrates to maintain high-energy over long periods. When other food sources are unavailable, Gatorade may make a temporary, healthy alternative to improving energy gains.

Fights Against Dehydration

Every time you sweat, your body loses a portion of the chemicals which help it to stay balanced and hydrated. Gatorade buffers against dehydration by replacing these electrolytes. Research by the Texas Medical Association (TMA) says that while water is sufficient enough for balancing electrolyte levels during brief, low-intense exercise, Gatorade works significantly better during longer periods of high-intense exercise. In fact, an April 2008 study in the journal of “Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism ” found that athletes who perform for more than three hours consuming only water will risk dehydration without the needed electrolytes of a sports drink.

Rehydrates Better than Water

Gatorade rehydrates your body better than water for two reasons. First of all, unlike water, Gatorade has a taste that kids and adults enjoy, and when you like what you drink, you are more likely to take bigger gulps. In fact, the Texas Medical Association says that most athletes who drink water alone fail to meet their fluid needs while exercising. The taste of Gatorade, however, helps you get enough.

Secondly, the glucose in Gatorade causes your intestines to absorb the nutrients and liquids faster than fruit juice or water, according to laboratory research by Gatorade. This rehydration allows you to exercise longer without feeling as weak, tired or confused.

Preserves Leg Force

During anaerobic exercise, where the body is unable to utilize enough oxygen for energy, Gatorade has been shown in studies to preserve the amount of strength exerted by the legs better than water. Consequently, you can carry out heavier exercises longer and build up muscle strength faster than exercising with water alone. According to the journal of “Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism,” this effect holds strongest in conditions of higher temperatures where sweating is more likely.

About this Author

Sky Smith has been writing on psychology, electronics, health, and fitness since 2002 for various online publications. He graduated from the University of Florida with honors in 2005, earning a B.S. in psychology and statistics with a minor in math.