Cool Commercials Aside, Does Gatorade Actually Help You Play Sports?

An athlete steps out onto the court or the field. A single bead of sweat drips down her face, rolling toward her chin, where it falls to the ground. It splashes in a burst of yellow, red or blue. You realize it’s not really sweat at all, but a drop of Gatorade. If this commercial is to be believed, it’s the lone force driving this athlete to greatness.

Once the commercial fades to black, you’re probably left wondering how accurate it is. Do Gatorade and other sports drinks really provide everything an athlete needs to perform? Not exactly — but it could actually help. Read on to learn what Gatorade can do for your athletic endeavors.

It Supplies Energy

In addition to electrolytes, Gatorade also offers another essential ingredient in the recipe for athletic success: carbohydrates. Carbohydrates serve as the fast-acting fuel an athlete needs to sprint, jump or swim. Although your body needs a mix of carbs, fat and protein to run like a well-oiled machine, in the middle of a game, Gatorade can keep athletes going with its quickly accessible sugar.

Keep in mind, however, that too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. If you drink Gatorade outside of sporting events in place of water, the extra calories could cause weight gain. So unless you require the extra jolt of energy, enjoy a cold glass of water instead.

It Replenishes Fluids

For every ounce of fluid you lose in sweat, you should replace it with fluid in the form of a drink. Like water, juice or any other beverage, Gatorade can provide this fluid. When athletes become dehydrated, it not only affects their athletic performance, it can also be detrimental to their health. Extreme dehydration could even land you in the hospital, so don’t neglect your fluid intake when you work out.

It Provides Electrolytes

You’ve probably heard the buzzword electrolytes in conversations surrounding athletic performance, but do you know what it means or what electrolytes do? Electrolytes help to regulate fluid balance in the body, which is obviously extremely important when you’re exercising for an extended amount of time. Electrolytes play a particularly vital role when you exercise in the heat and lose excessive amounts of fluid through sweat.

Sodium and potassium are two common electrolytes that are found naturally in food and infused into each bottle of Gatorade. Although it’s not usually necessary to replace electrolytes in the body when you’re working out for less than an hour in moderate temperatures, more intense exercise may require it.

It Just Tastes Better

Given the high amounts of fluids athletes have to drink in order to stay hydrated, it’s natural to get tired of the prospect of another bottle of water. Not a fan of Gatorade’s options? There’s always Powerade or many other store-brand flavors. Just check the label to see how much sugar they have.

It Can Be Misused

As you can see, drinking Gatorade has many benefits. As previously mentioned, though, drinking too much of it outside the context of the athletic field can result in calorie overload and, consequently, additional pounds. The additional electrolytes also aren’t really necessary for daily life, and extreme doses of either can be detrimental to your health, so stick with water when you’re not sweating on the court.

Now that you’re all caught up on the benefits of Gatorade and other sports drinks, you can decide whether it suits your athletic routine. If so, consider stocking up on your favorite flavor before your next day of running around with teammates. And if you start sweating rainbows… maybe you should see a doctor.

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