Overview of Gatorade
“Does Gatorade Have Caffeine?” This question is asked by lots of people. According to Gatorade’s website, the drink was “born in the lab” when researchers looked at why athletes were getting sick after strenuous exercise in the heat.
They found out that these athletes were losing electrolytes and fluids with hard work but not in their place. Gatorade was developed to replace crucial carbohydrates and electrolytes while hydrating at the same time.
While marketed as a sports drink, athletes don’t just drink Gatorade. Kids drink it at lunch or after soccer practice, and it also develops a reputation as a hangover cure.
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But while Gatorade may have less sugar than soda, is it really good for you?
Pros of Gatorade
It is important to stay hydrated when you exercise. Water is the most logical form of hydration. However, sports drinks like Gatorade contain electrolytes such as sugar and sodium, and potassium. Sports drinks can help replace what we lose during long-term exercise, especially in the heat.
Electrolytes are those minerals that help to maintain your body’s ionic balance. This ionic balance is important for muscle, nerve, and brain function. Imbalances can lead to electrolyte disorders.
Examples of electrolytes include:
Electrolytes and carbohydrates help athletes refuel and rehydrate. This is what makes sports drinks popular. Electrolytes help regulate the body’s fluid balance while carbs provide energy. Gatorade claims better hydrates than their product because of these additional ingredients.
Some research supports his claim. Drinks may be better than sports for children and athletes who engage in vigorous physical activity for more than an hour, especially in hot conditions, a report from the University of California, Berkeley said.
However, you should keep in mind that people who exercise for less than 60 to 90 minutes may not need Gatorade to maintain or improve performance.
So, what about the use of sports drinks for the average person?
Cons of Gatorade
The majority of Gatorade drinkers are not athletes. And according to a Berkeley study, most people who drink sports drinks at least once a day are less physically active.
Gatorade’s Thirsty Quentin contains 36 grams of sugar per 20-ounce serving. While it has a little less sugar per ounce than your average soda, it’s not exactly healthy.
In fact, Berkeley researchers say that increasing the caloric intake of sugar in sports drinks may contribute to a child’s obesity epidemic.
When drunk frequently, Gatorade’s sugar content can also contribute to tooth decay, especially in children.
For those who are less active, taking extra sugar and sodium during the day is not necessary or recommended. Excess calories from sports drinks can contribute to weight gain. Excess sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure over time.
The low-calorie version of Gatorade, G2, substitutes acesulfame and sucrose for sugar. The G2 has 40 calories per 16 ounces, which is less than half the calories of a regular Gatorade. Research is ongoing on the long-term safety of these artificial sweeteners, but not yet conclusive.
Importantly, Gatorade also includes food colors, such as red number 40, blue number 1, and yellow number. These synthetic dyes are derived from petroleum and increase the risk of hyperactivity in children. They are also linked to a cancer-trusted source.
Should you drink Gatorade or water after sports?
Both Gatorade and water will help the body regain fluids lost through exercise and other physical activity. The difference is that manufacturers add extra ingredients, such as sugar and electrolytes, to Gatorade and other sports drinks.
Electrolytes are minerals, such as potassium and sodium, that affect a person’s muscles, brain, and nerves.
When a person exercises, he loses not only water but also electrolyte through his sweat. Gatorade, due to its electrolyte content, helps to restore lost electrolytes and keep a person hydrated during intense activity. It can also change electrolytes during times of illness such as stomach viruses.
Gatorade was created to help serious athletes perform better on the field. There is no shortage of research that is heavily funded by Gatorade and other sports drinks to support these claims.
More than 300 research articles on sports drinks are available, according to the University of California, Berkeley’s Sugar Science. Of these, it is difficult to find research that is not funded by industry designators, including Gatorade. While these organizations fund research into their own products, reviewers view it as a conflict of interest.
For example, an independent review of 2007 research found that research studies funded by the industry as a whole were more likely to yield favorable results than studies that did not have industry funding.
A 2014 research review from the University of California, Berkeley showed that most researchers base their conclusions on the performance of serious athletes. Therefore, serious athletes who compete or exercise for more than an hour at a time get the benefits of Gatorade that do not provide water.
However, scientists do not recommend Gatorade or other sports drinks, in most cases, for the average person or child, exercising or competing for less than an hour.
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Make the Right Decision for Your Children
Gatorade can help you stay hydrated; it is best to drink it only when needed.
For those who are not exercising for at least an hour, five days a week, water is the best condition to stay hydrated. Electrolytes that are coming from natural and organic sources without added sugars and dyes are highly recommended.
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Experts suggest that parents limit their consumption of Gatorade, such as their children’s sports drinks, due to their sugar content and artificial color.
A researcher who has worked with Gatorade in the past told NPR that Gatorade cannot be considered a “bad guy.” He stressed that parents need to evaluate sugar consumption from all sources while helping their children make healthier decisions.
For most children, the best source of hydration is water. Foods like fresh fruits and vegetables are the best source of carbohydrate and electrolyte replacement. You can also make a healthy sports drink at home with this recipe.