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Is Gatorlyte Actually Healthy? An Ingredient Review

Is Gatorlyte Actually Healthy? An Ingredient Review


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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.


Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Gatorade has launched a new sports hydration drink called Gatorlyte which they’re aggressively marketing as a “rapid rehydration” product.

In this article we’ll analyze whether the average person working out really needs a specialty rehydration drink, and also analyze all of the ingredients in Gatorlyte to give our determination on whether it’s healthy or not.

Are Hydration Drinks Necessary?

Sports hydration drinks typically consist of water, sugar and electrolytes, along with some other filler ingredients. The theory behind this type of formulation is that glucose from sugar provides energy and electrolytes replace those lost by sweating.

Medical research suggests that sports hydration beverages containing electrolytes and carbohydrates optimize performance in prolonged endurance events (like marathons), but we can’t find much medical research suggesting they improve performance in the average person.

If you’re going to the gym every day to jog for 30 minutes or lift weights, we don’t believe it’s necessary to use a sports hydration drink. For people trying to lose weight, we believe it’s even more illogical to use a drink like Gatorlyte instead of water, because the additional calories are detrimental to weight loss.

Gatorlyte Ingredient Review

Gatorlyte ingredients

Gatorlyte has several different flavors, all with similar formulations. We’re using the Gatorlyte Mixed Berry product as a basis for our ingredient review, and the Nutrition Facts label above is from this product.

The active ingredients in this product are sugar and an electrolyte blend of potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride.

We take no issue with the electrolyte inclusion, but we know from previous medical research that added sugar is harmful in excess. For elite athletes who consume no other added sugar throughout the day, and use Gatorlyte to replenish during intense workouts, there’s certainly no issue, but for the average American who’s already consuming too much added sugar, we would recommend avoiding any sports drinks with added sugar.

Gatorlyte also contains the preservative and flavor enhancer citric acid. This compound can be naturally derived from citrus fruits like lemons, but over 99% of its commercial production comes not from citrus fruits, but from a fungus called Aspergillus niger as documented by a recent medical review on this ingredient published in the Toxicology Reports journal.

The study linked above found that citric acid derived from the fungus can cause whole-body inflammation in some patients, which is why we recommend avoiding all food and beverage products containing this ingredient. Even though this potential side effect is rare, it doesn’t seem logical to consume this ingredient when it has a documented risk and no nutritive benefit.

This Gatorlyte flavor also contains two artificial food dyes: Red 40 and Blue 1. A medical review on the toxicology of food dyes concluded that Red 40 was contaminated with carcinogens (cancer-causing compounds), and that Blue 1 causes hypersensitivity reactions.

We recommend avoiding all products with artificial food dyes. Like citric acid, they provide zero health value and they may pose a health risk, so it makes sense to avoid them.

Gatorlyte also contains natural flavor, which is a generic term often used by food manufacturers which doesn’t define what actual chemicals are used. Without the information on which specific chemicals are used in the natural flavor, it’s impossible for consumers to be certain that the product is safe.

Overall we don’t find this formulation to be very healthy, and would recommend avoiding it. Even elite athletes with a need for sports hydration drinks could find an alternative without food dye, citric acid or flavoring agents.

Gatorlytes Packets Review

Gatorlytes ingredients

Gatorade also sells a separate electrolyte product in powder form confusingly called “Gatorlytes.” It comes in a packet and can be mixed into water or any other beverage.

These packets contain more sodium but fewer electrolytes than Gatorlyte drinks. The stats are below:

Sodium

Gatorlytes powder: 780 milligrams (mg)

Gatorlyte drink: 490 mg

Magnesium

Gatorlytes powder: 40 mg

Gatorlyte drink: 105 mg

Potassium

Gatorlytes powder: 400 mg

Gatorlyte drink: 350 mg

Calcium

Gatorlytes powder: 80 mg

Gatorlyte drink: 120 mg

What makes Gatorlytes the superior product from a health context is that it contains zero questionable additive ingredients. The formulation is just electrolytes, with no added sugar or artificial food dye. We would definitely recommend Gatorlytes powder over Gatorlyte drink.

We recently reviewed the LMNT electrolytes product favorably because of its clean formulation, but that product didn’t contain calcium so Gatorlytes may be nutritionally superior.

Whole Foods Alternatives

There are whole foods that are rich in electrolytes which may be healthier alternatives to commercial electrolyte products.

According to the USDA, coconut water is rich in potassium and natural sugars.

Pickle juice is high in sodium and often used to treat muscle cramps. It has a pungent taste that may be off-putting to some people, so try a small amount at home before taking pickle juice on a run.

Many fruits and vegetables are high in individual electrolytes, so the healthiest natural electrolyte option may be a homemade smoothie.

One quarter of a watermelon contains over 100 mg of magnesium according to the USDA resource linked above. Spinach is incredibly high in calcium, with one bunch (340 grams) containing 337 mg calcium. Celery is naturally high in sodium and bananas have relatively high potassium.

A smoothie with watermelon, spinach, celery and banana would taste better and be healthier than any electrolyte drink on the market in our opinion, and would also contain natural sugar suitable for elite athletes.

For athletes engaged in high-intensity training losing significant water through sweat, consider adding a small amount of pickle juice to add significant sodium to the smoothie.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Gatorlyte has some effective ingredients for optimizing performance, but we don’t recommend it overall due to the added sugar and artificial food dye, among other filler ingredients.

Gatorlytes electrolyte powder packets are better-formulated than the Gatorlyte drink, and we would recommend that product to elite athletes who want a convenient solution that they can just mix into their water.

We believe that the healthiest option would be to make a high-electrolyte smoothie consisting of watermelon, spinach, celery and banana to meet electrolyte and natural sugar requirements and fuel training.

A whole foods sports hydration beverage would provide secondary health benefits in the form of phytonutrients and antioxidants that a powder would not.





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