Gatorade vs Water

Do ‘sports drinks’ like Gatorade actually do anything more for you than drinking water? Obviously they have flavoring, but do they really replentish anything that needs replentishing aside from good 'ol H2O?

What they do is add sodium to the water. If you drink too much water without food, you can actually over-hydrate, where the imbalance of pure water to salt in your cells causes negative effects. If it is severe enough, you can actually die, although you need to drink a TON of water, and have nothing to eat. One thing that Gatorade does is allow your body to survive more on just liquid. The added sodium preserves the balance, and as such, your body doesn’t need to worry about regulating sodium content. As for other nutrients, I have no idea.

Gatorade &c. contain salts and glucose; the salts are definitely necessary for people doing major-league sweating (although Gatorade probably has too much), and the glucose (or other sugar-replacing molecules) is a good quick substitute for eating (although, again, Gatorade probably has too much).

I’ve noticed that, if you need what’s in them, sports drinks taste great; otherwise, they taste horrid. I haven’t noticed that effect with other drinlks.

Just to expand on what Jman says:

If you’re thirsty, drink water.

If you’re doing hard core exercise for over an hour or so, you may find that Gatorade (or any other sports drink) helps because it does replenish the sodium and glucose you’re expending by exercising.

So generally, if you’re trying to stay hydrated, water works just fine. But if the nifty flavors are more appealing to you, and it gets you to drink, I guess there’s nothing wrong with that. Just remember that Gatorade has mega calories in it, too. So if you’re not exercising, it’s really no different than drinking a sugary soda. (calorie-wise, that is)

–scout, big time water drinker

Pretty good amount of carbs too…
If you’re trying to lose weight, drink water. If you’re trying to maintain your current condition or just add muscle/strenght, go ahead and have your Gatorade.

I recall reading an article a while back in the newspaper about how some hospitals are giving Gatorade to dehydrated patients (due to diarhea and other stuff that causes dehydration) and the doctors went on and on about the electrolytes.

Of course, Gatorade has a lot (?) of sugar in it so it’s not something you should drink gallons of, but I like to have it when I’m having stomach problems because I can’t drink as much water as I can gatorade.

My mother also keeps threatening to get me Pedialyte (i’m 23) because it’s got the electrolytes but less sugar.

So uhm…what IS an electrolyte and where else can we find them?

Electrolytes are minerals like sodium, potassium, and calcium, that your body needs to maintain proper blood chemistry. If you lose them too fast without replacing them, or if the relative balance between them gets way off, weird stuff like physical collapse and possible death can result.:eek:

Dump a tablespoon of salt in fresh water… thats electrolyte

Electrolytes are ions. These ions are necessary for nerve transmission and, consequently, muscle movement. Potassium and sodium are the main ions (and hence electrolytes) involved in nerve transmission. Calcium ions are necessary for muscle movement, too, but those are not usually referred to as electrolytes, apparently because they are involved directly with the muscle and not the nerve.

I want to add that Gatorade does not have too much glucose. Studies have shown that a solution of 10% or less glucose will not interfere with water absorption. I all depends what you mean by “too much.” Gatorade is an energy-replacement drink and it is supposed to be used for that purpose. It is not meant to be drunk willy-nilly. Further, Gatorade comes in many flavors now and I find they taste good.

There are other energy replacement drinks with glucose and electrolytes now. PowerAde is probably the second most popular.

What I meant by “too much” is that the amount you will drink to replenish your body’s water contains more glucose than you need to fuel your activity. In other words, you need to drink water, too. This states that the only electrolyte you need is salt. This study by the Gatorade Institute is not consistent with studies done by Dr. Tim Noakes, an exercise physiologist, who stated that the solution must be 8% or less. Subsequent studies I’ve read indicated that it can be as much as 10%. This also states that all you need to replace are glucose and salt and that you don’t need a sports drink to do that.

Incidentally, if you ingest only water and exercise a long time in hot weather, you can become sodium depleted as noted before. This is called “water intoxication” or hyponatremia, and it has resulted in many deaths. I know some of said that this is a rare event, but I’ve read about many such incidents in recent years. Not all died, but some did.

I vaguely remember an article about cholera (cholera is basically death by diarreha dehydration.)

It said that intestinal water uptake is fairly low unless some sort of biological switch is thrown. Therefore, if you give a cholera victim lots of water orally, they still lose water faster than they can absorb it. Intravenous injection was the only way to save lives. But someone found that food throws the switch and turns on the high-rate intestinal absorbtion, and glucose does the same. So, the ideal fluid for preventing dehydration would be water with some salt, potassium, and enough glucose to flip the switch. Pedialyte, gatorade, etc.

On long drives from Indiana to Florida, I’ve found that by drinking Gatorade I can stay awake and drive for the entire trip. Does anyone know why this might be? There isn’t any caffeine in Gatorade that I’m aware of. Is it just the sugar?

Drinking too much water without replacing electrolytes can cause Hyponatremia, which is a low concentration of sodium in the blood. The symptoms include nausea, cramps, dizziness, and in severe cases can lead to a coma or even death.

However, this is normally only a concern of endurance athletes, and your body can handle a little imbalance for a while (IIRC, about a third of ironman-distance triathlon finishers are hyponatremic). You only need sports drinks if you are engaged in athletic activity for at least an hour to an hour and a half. Otherwise, water will work just fine as far as hydration goes. Another popular solution, besides sports drinks, is salt tablets.

abel, as far as I know, Gatorade is caffeine free, could be the sugar keeping you awake.

(FWIW, I race in triathlons and the only time I use sports drinks is during races and on training days that take at least 1.5 hours, like long bike rides. YMMV, however.)

If you read my last link, you will note that salt tabliets is not a good idea because of the possible side effects.

From my marathon running days, I know a lot of runners would drink a solution that was half water and half Gatorade.

Is this like what happens to some people that take Extacy? They get all hyped up from taking E and then dance for hours on end and to stay hydrated drink too much water?

Back to the Gatorade subject…is the powder one (mix yourself) as opposed to the pre-packaged ones? I would tend to think the pre-packaged ones would have more sugar and preservatives in them.

Yes. But with Ecstasy, there’s another problem in addition to simply ingesting too much water. i.e. Ecstasy causes your body to make a hormone that retains water in the body (even when your body should be trying to lose water). The hormone is called Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH) and the abnormality is called the Syndrome of Antidiuretuc Hormone (SIADH).

I’m a big time water drinker. I love water. But I’ve noticed if I’m really dehydrated, water alone just doesn’t do it for me. Especially if I’ve been out on the piss, the next morning I wake up every half hour drinking water, water, water and it doesn’t quench my thirst. So finally, I decided to drink some syrup and water and add a bit of salt. That does the trick. (A bit like drinking pickle juice for hangovers.)

The salt and the sugar make a big difference. I think the standard rehydration solution recommended is 1 tsp of salt and 3 tablespoons of sugar for every liter of water. Basically, this is what Gatorade provides, but tastes much better. And this is what you need if you have any sort of diarrhea (see bbeaty’s post)