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Is This Gatorade!?

Written on March 16, 2007 at 7:19 pm, by Jon Boyle

Day in and day out, athletes are exposed to an onslaught of advertisements, most promising what they all want: increased performance. Something as simple as Gatorade has become the king of marketing and endorsements, the Gatorade Sports Institute is one of the leading researchers in athlete hydration. It is a wonder that such a praised product can also be so unpredictable. The product Gatorade is sound, as well as the science behind it; the problem is not the product, but the company.

Undoubtedly, Gatorade is one of the most researched products purchased by athletes (millions of them). Recently, many other companies have released similar products to compete with Gatorade, but the need to establish revenue has led to short changed products. After all, when Gatorade controls the market, the theory is to create a cheaper product to steal back the market. Companies like Powerade and All Sport, develop a product “exactly-like” Gatorade but cheaper.

To many athletes they appear the same, many just dismiss Powerade for being a bad product because it legitimately does not digest as well as Gatorade. This isn’t just a “gut feeling”, science supports this, as the main ingredient in Powerade is High Fructose Corn Syrup. Now, the actual debate of Fructose as a glycogen replenisher is a whole topic by itself, but all would agree, in the athletic environment, Dextrose / Glucose is superior. In fact, in the Fluid Replacement Position Statement released by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, and headed by esteemed hydration researcher and guru Doug Casa, ATC, PhD., the researchers suggest that athletes limit fructose. The statement goes on to recommend that no more than 2-3% of the solution be comprised of fructose.

This provides a bit more insight as to why many athletes have a better experience (barring endorsement temptations) with powdered Gatorade. The story doesn’t end there. Many athletes, for the sake of time and money, will train on Gatorade powder as it is far cheaper. These same athletes will often experience problems in competition where preparing your own Gatorade is nearly impossible. The majority, if not all, endurance events have moved from made-from-concentrate Gatorade to ready-to-drink Gatorade, or similar sports drink. This creates many problems, as Gatorade itself has fallen to a similar fate as Powerade: Ready-to-drink Gatorade now has a main ingredient of High Fructose Corn Syrup.

If there is one thing to learn in the supplement industry, it is to avoid ready-made drinks. Ready-to-drink protein supplements, and now ready-to-drink sports drinks are far inferior to even their same-brand concentrate counterparts. Gatorade powder, lists the main ingredients as Sucrose and Dextrose, very different from a syrup concoction of fructose. While many will note that Sucrose is in fact a disaccharide sugar of glucose and fructose, it still is not the primary ingredient. It is more important that the proper sugars are available to prevent the body from having to rely entirely on fructose.

From my own digestion issues, I have learned to train and race on the same powdered Gatorade. There is absolutely no indication that the quality of ready-to-drink products will improve, simply because most companies will not trade out profits to improve a product many do not know needs improvement.

Train Smart,
Jon Boyle

  • Roland

    Eric,

    I don’t see HFCS on any Gatorade labels. Is this new? The local store stocks still show sucrose syrup and glucose-fructose syrup as the carb sources in the bottles.

    Glucose-fructose syrup is listed, but that’s different from high fructose corn syrup.

    I won’t argue that the powder is likely better. And, I agree that you should compete with the same drink you train with, whether it’s from powder or straight from the bottle.

    Later,

    Roland

  • Anonymous

    It does seem that Gatorade changed their ingredients in the last 6 months. They now list HFCS as well ad other additives.

  • Anonymous

    nonCorn syrup solids, glucose-fructose, all of those are hfcs, just different naming conventions. Many products are doing this on ingredients list to hide things like hfcs, msg, etc. it’s vile and sneaky tactics.

  • Scott

    I actually find the powder much more convenient than the bottled drinks. Since I live in an urban area, I generally don’t use a car for shopping so I don’t have the problem of dragging all that weight in water home with me.

    Water is available most places I am, so I can either mix it myself and take a bottle along or even take some powder along for adding water to. It’s easy to mix by shaking it in a bottle.

    If the powder contains less high fructose corn syrup then it’s even more of a bonus. But isn’t there a dehydrated form of HFCS? How would you know it from a label?

  • RC Parsons

    I agree absolutely with the use of powdered sports drink over bottled. Moreover, consider the energy cost, transportation cost, waste of space, and waste of resources it takes to moved the mixed/plastic bottled beverage across the country. Moving these small containers or pouches of the powdered stuff is so much more efficient. I mean.. i’m not a purist. When i do buy the bottled stuff i just save the bottles and re-use with the powdered stuff. That way i can throw away my bottles part way through longer runs.

    Regarding digestive issues: It’s certainly a matter of what works for you. I like gatorade for adding electrolytes during the day (and as a hangover helper) but in the middle of vigorous workouts (MTB, Trail running) it still disrupts my issues with acid-reflux. I’ve had more luck with Hammer Nutrition’s “Heed”. It’s also not nearly as sweet or strongly flavored.

  • Anna

    Can you tell me if Powerade and Gatorade powder contain brominated vegetable oil (BVO) or HFCS?


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