Many people work out for various reasons, the most common being health and fitness, including getting that lean summer body. Exercising taxes the body–in a good way–but it depletes stamina, hydration and most of all, electrolytes.
Electrolytes are responsible for keeping the inner-workings of your body–such as heartbeat, muscle control and efficient use of fluids–in perfect balance. An imbalance in electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphate and others) can lead to adverse effects.
This is why, in 1965, a team of scientists lead by Robert Cade at the University of Florida College of Medicine created Gatorade–a beverage meant to replenish lost electrolytes and rejuvenate energy after strenuous exertion. The result was Gatorade, one of the best-rated and most popular sports drinks in the world.
Gatorade contains ingredients that help prevent muscle cramps; sodium and potassium work together to stimulate healthy muscle contractions while reducing the risk of cramp. The absence of these two electrolytes can result in muscle cramps, fatigue and weakness.
Dehydration can also lead to muscle cramps. In fact, not getting enough fluids is one of the most common causes of muscle cramps during exercise, reports MedlinePlus. The combination of water and sodium in Gatorade is more beneficial than water alone because sodium helps ease or prevent cramping.
The Benefits of Gatorade
Any type of physical activity, be it physical labor, exercising, or even just walking, depletes the body of energy. Perspiration aside, the body loses other resources besides water when you are active. The amount of resources lost and the rate at which they are depleted depend on the duration and demand of the activity.
Water is obviously a the primary ingredient in Gatorade, however, additional carbohydrates and electrolytes make it more effective than plain water. This is why many athletes, ranging from and basketball players to boxers and UFC fighters, rely on Gatorade to help them give their maximum effort when performing.
Sodium, a key electrolyte, not only prevents muscle cramping, but also adds stimulates thirst. This means that as you drink Gatorade, you’ll want to drink more because of the sodium. Gatorade contains a concentration of sodium similar to that of normal perspiration. An 8-ounce serving of Gatorade provides 110 milligrams of sodium.
Gatorade can be Bad for You…
As beneficial as Gatorade is, it’s designed specifically to consumed before, during, and immediately after strenuous exercise. If you’re drinking it simply as a matter of course throughout the day, there are some effects you need to be aware of.
1. Weight Gain
Different types of Gatorade have different calories, with some having up to 200 per 32 ounce. Doesn’t sound like much, but the calories can quickly add up. This means Gatorade might not be the best choice as a casual drink and is best used when you’re exercising.
2. Vitamin Toxicity
Too much Gatorade can also lead to vitamin toxicity. This is because the product has enhanced vitamins and minerals like vitamin A and fat soluble vitamins which can accumulate in your body, unlike water soluble vitamins (like vitamin C) which are flushed out.
Hyponatremia is a fatal side effect caused by over-drinking. This is the opposite of dehydration, where over-hydration causes sodium levels to drop severely. In some cases, this can be deadly.
In some people, the sodium content of Gatorade can contribute to high blood pressure. Keep in mind that a bottle of Gatorade has 800mg of sodium, which is the 33% of the recommended daily intake.
5. High Blood Sugar
The sugared versions of Gatorade can contain as much as 56 grams of sugar per 32 ounce bottle. Although carbohydrates are useful for replenishing glycogen after exercise, too much can lead to high blood sugar.
Gatorade Facts and Trivia
Gatorade muscle recovery and improves performance
In a study, subjects were given Gatorade and a placebo drink. Compared to the placebo, Gatorade consumption reduced production of post exercise lactate and glucose levels. This confirms Gatorade helps with exercise-recovery drink that can improve performance and extend endurance.
The Gatorade Company made a Gatorade-branded chewing gum as an alternative to their drink. The gum helps quench thirst while delivering the same beneficial results of the classic beverage. Sadly, Gatorgum was discontinued in 1989. However it made a recent return branded as ‘Gatorade energy chews’ and is currently available.
The first experimental batch cost 43$
The first Gatorade made cost $43. The scientific team behind it (Robert Cade, Dana Shires, John Lloyd, Harry James Free and Alejandro de Quesada) had to tinker with numerous chemical compounds to get the formula right when they created the drink in 1965.
MJ relied heavily on it during is famous “Flu Game”
Michael Jordan had a severe flu during one of his 1997 finals games. He relied on Gatorade to power through it. Every timeout he reached for a bottle of Gatorade because he was experiencing severe dehydration due to his flu. Gatorade helped him stay hydrated and energized enough to score 38 points in 44 minutes and ultimately help his team win.
Gatorade is a pioneer when it comes to sports drinks. Many companies have attempted to copy its specialized formula. It not only hydrates you, but provides essential electrolytes help promote energy and recovery. The added sodium helps your muscles contract while preventing cramps.
Despite it’s numerous benefits, and because of it’s sugar content and calories, your best bet for use is to treat Gatorade as a workout beverage. If you’re not exerting yourself through exercise or hard work, reach for a water instead.Share!