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Healthy Alternatives To Gatorade

Summer is in full swing and for most of us, that means sweating. A lot of sweating.

Key Takeaways

  • Gatorade, a popular sports drink, was originally designed to help athletes replace fluids lost during practice. However, it is often consumed by non-athletes and contains high levels of sugar, contributing to health issues like obesity and chronic conditions.
  • Healthy alternatives to Gatorade include coconut water, watermelon water, superfood smoothies, and milk
  • These alternatives to Gatorade provide the necessary electrolyte replacement without the high sugar content of Gatorade.

Where there is sweating there is a need to replace electrolytes. While sports drinks such as Gatorade are among the most commonly used electrolyte drinks during the summer heat wave, they may not be providing you with the best nutrition.

Below we will take a look at healthy alternatives to Gatorade or alternative energy drinks so you can replenish those valuable electrolytes or elevate your energy levels without sacrificing your health.

What Is Gatorade?

Gatorade

Gatorade is a popular sports drink used by athletes and laypersons alike. It was originally invented by a team of scientists at the University of Florida in the 1960s following a request from the Gator’s football team’s head coach to help athletes replace fluids lost during practice for better performance.

Gatorade was originally a mixture of water, sodium, sugar, potassium, and lemon juice. Over time Gatorade has refined its recipe and now includes a large variety of different flavors and types of electrolyte replacements including powders, gels, and more.

While Gatorade is marketed toward athletes, the majority of those who use this sports drink are not as active as the population for which this beverage was intended. Part of what makes Gatorade so enticing to many, especially kids, is the flavor varieties which often come with a large dose of sugar.

While Gatorade doesn’t contain quite as much sugar as soda does, it still provides a hefty dose per serving which can be contributing to childhood obesity, tooth decay, and an increased risk of developing chronic conditions early in life.

Gatorade does offer a sugar-free alternative to their original recipe however, these utilize artificial sweeteners and the long-term implications of frequent intake of these chemical compounds are still inconclusive.

Gatorade Nutrition Facts

A 36-ounce container of Gatorade Fruit Punch provides the following: (Source)

  • Servings 2.5
  • Calories per serving: 80
  • Carbohydrates: 22g
  • Sodium: 160mg
  • Total sugars: 21g
  • Added sugars: 21g
  • Potassium: 50mg

A typical 36-ounce bottle of Gatorade contains a whopping 21 grams of added sugars. To put that into perspective, a full-size Snickers candy bar contains 28 grams of added sugars. The nutrition facts information above is for 1 serving of Gatorade and each 36-ounce bottle contains 2.5 servings.

For those who consume the entire bottle of Gatorade, this would mean they are consuming about 53 grams of total added sugars which is close to 2 full-size Snickers candy bars.

Add that to the fact that many people enjoy Gatorade not just as a sports drink but as a regular beverage. Meaning they may not be needing all those extra electrolytes and sugar compared to an athlete who is requiring this type of replenishment.

Consuming a diet high in added sugars can result in serious health implications over time. According to the American Heart Association, added sugars should be limited to no more than 25 grams a day for women (about 6 teaspoons), and 36 grams a day for men (about 9 teaspoons). (Source)

A diet high in added sugars can contribute to weight gain and an increased risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. (Source)

Healthy Alternatives To Gatorade

One of the main concerns with Gatorade as an electrolyte replacement is the high amount of added sugars or the presence of artificial sweeteners.

Below are some healthy alternatives to Gatorade that will fulfill the need for electrolyte replacement with a significant reduction in added sugars.

Coconut Water

coconut water

One of the best natural Gatorade alternatives is coconut water. This is the clear liquid juice from inside of, you guessed it, a coconut.

Coconut water is a rich source of electrolytes sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium but it is also naturally low in sugar and calories.

One cup of pure coconut water contains roughly 45 calories, 6 grams of sugar, 60mg of magnesium, 48 mg of phosphorus, 600mg of potassium, and 252 mg of sodium. This is far more sodium and potassium compared to Gatorade with a fraction of the sugar. (Source)

You can find coconut water packaged in bottles at your local grocery store. Be sure to choose one that contains 100% coconut water without any added flavors or sweeteners.

Watermelon Water

Another great natural substitute for Gatorade is watermelon water. Watermelon water is the juice from the watermelon. It is naturally rich in potassium and magnesium. It also contains a small dose of calcium and phosphorus per serving (about 1 cup) with no added sugars.

In fact, other fruit juices can work well as natural electrolyte beverages, including orange juice and tart cherry juice which are good sources of potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. They are also rich in many essential vitamins and minerals that aren’t present in sports drinks. (Source)(Source)

Superfood Smoothies

In addition to those mentioned above, superfood smoothies are a great alternative to Gatorade which also provides a hearty dose of essential nutrients like fruit juices but with additions such as fiber which can support a healthy gut and blood sugar management.

Superfood smoothies are simply smoothies made with superfood ingredients, such as nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.

For those low on time, you can also choose a superfood powder to boost the nutrition profile of your smoothie, such as Human Tonik Red Tonik powder, which contains a powerful blend of beets, superfoods, and berries to improve blood flow, heart health, and endurance levels.

Milk

Lastly, cow’s milk can make a great alternative to Gatorade and other sports drinks.

While it might sound surprising, cow’s milk provides a hearty dose of calcium, phosphorus, and potassium along with a nice mixture of carbs and protein to fuel and recover from your workout. Not to mention, it’s a lot more inexpensive than other options and a common pantry staple for many. (Source)

Bottom Line

Healthy Alternatives To Gatorade
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While Gatorade is a popular sports drink for replenishing electrolytes, its high sugar content warrants concern for those who are health conscious.

Luckily, there are natural and healthy alternatives to Gatorade with a fraction of the sugar, including coconut water, watermelon water, and other fruit juices, milk, and superfood smoothies.

If you haven’t tried these options yet, now is a great time. As the heat wave continues, there is a growing need for electrolyte replacement. With these natural alternatives in hand, you are ready to take on the heat without the weight of any growing health concerns.

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