Is Propel Water Good for You? A Dietitian Answers

Is Propel Water Good for You? A Dietitian Answers


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Propel Water is a Gatorade-brand product that’s described as “Fitness water.” The water contains added electrolytes and is free of added sugar.

But is Propel Water actually healthy, or is it a waste of money? Does the drink contain any questionable additive ingredients? How does it compare to Gatorade? And what do real users think about Propel Water?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in Propel Water based on medical studies to give our take on whether it’s healthy or not, and how it compares to Gatorade for sports nutrition.

We’ll feature unsponsored customer reviews of the brand.

Ingredient Analysis – Is Propel Water Healthy?

Propel Water ingredients

The ingredients in Propel Water Berry flavor are shown above.

The core active ingredients are water and a blend of electrolytes including sodium and potassium.

If these were the only ingredients in Propel, we’d consider recommending the brand. However, there are also a number of additive ingredients that may be questionable from a health perspective.

Citric acid is a flavoring agent that causes whole-body inflammation in some individuals, as documented by a medical review published in the Toxicology Reports journal.

Sodium hexametaphosphate and potassium sorbate are preservatives (although safer ones in our opinion than some commercial preservatives).

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that’s clinically shown to worsen insulin function, as we documented in our article on is C4 bad for you.

Natural flavor is a broad categorical descriptor that fails to describe which specific flavoring compounds are used.

This drink also has a blend of vitamin additives like vitamin B3 and vitamin B5. We haven’t come across any convincing medical evidence that relatively small doses of water-soluble vitamins improve athletic performance, nor does the brand cite any on their product page.

Overall, we do not consider Propel Water to be good for you due to all of the additive ingredients highlighted above. This is one of the worst water brands we’ve reviewed on Illuminate Health from a formulation perspective.

But how does Propel Water compare to Gatorade? We’ll answer that question in the next section before featuring unsponsored customer reviews of the brand.

Propel vs. Gatorade

Gatorade is of course the original sports nutrition drink.

But while Gatorade may be a better choice for elite athletes due to its sugar content, it’s a worse choice for the average American for the exact same reason.

A 12 ounce (oz) Gatorade contains 48 grams (g) of added sugar, which is more than a Coca-Cola of the same size.

A 2019 medical review concluded that added sugar in excess is associated with increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Many Americans already consume too much added sugar from their diet, and 48 g is nearly the recommended Daily Value (DV) for the entire day’s worth of calories.

Propel Water is also free of artificial dye, while some Gatorade flavors contain artificial dye.

Overall, we would recommend Propel Water over Gatorade given its lower added sugar content and lack of synthetic dyes.

But how do real users rate and describe the effects of Propel Water? We’ll feature some unsponsored customer reviews in the next section.

We Tried Propel Water Ourselves

Propel UGC

As the author of this article, I wanted to try Propel Water myself in an athletic context, to share my thoughts on its taste and effects.

I had a late workout in my home gym and brought a chilled Kiwi Strawberry Propel Water with me.

The taste was too artificial and too sweet for me. It tasted more like an energy drink than a water, and I'm not a fan of strongly-flavored water drinks.

It was convenient that the bottle was so large, and was larger than the water bottle I typically bring to work out, so perhaps I stayed more hydrated than I would have otherwise.

I worked out for around an hour, and didn't notice any specific performance benefits. I didn't lift more weight than usual and didn't feel any less fatigued between sets.

I do not plan to purchase this drink in the future, and would rate it 1/10.

Real People Try Propel Water

A TikTok creator named Caroline Mabeus claims that Propel Water helped her lose weight: 

@carolinemabeus Honestly all my favs and i stay stocked at all times 😂 #weightlosscheck #intermittentfasting #caloriedeficit #howtoloseweight #65poundsdown #cirkulwaterbottle #fittok #weightlosstip #healthyrecipes #weightlossmotivation #fitness #weightlossbeforeandafter #healthystarbucks #healthystarbucksdrinks #weightlossmusthaves #healthydrinks #watertok #watergoals ♬ dont blame me nightcore - dani (taylor’s version)

A TikTok creator named “valenciaminnie8” did a taste test of the grape flavor: 

@valenciaminnie8 Taste test! So Refreshing @Propel Fitness Water #fypシ #propelfitnesswater #summer ♬ original sound - valenciaminnie8

Will Propel Water Cause Side Effects?

While we don’t consider Propel Water to be particularly healthy, we do not believe this drink is likely to cause side effects in otherwise healthy adults.

This drink is basically water with a small blend of nutrients and inactive ingredients. All of the ingredients are well-studied, relatively common manufacturing additives.

Citric acid may cause reactions in a very small subset of the population, but again it doesn’t seem likely to do so in the average consumer.

There is no mention of side effects on Propel’s website, and the drink doesn’t appear to be clinically tested so we can’t confirm for certain the likelihood of side effects.

Where to Buy Propel for the Best Price

Propel Water is sold at a variety of online retailers. Here’s a price breakdown for a 12-pack at the time of publishing this article:

Instacart: $9.89 (link)

Target: $8.99 (link)

Walmart: $8.48 (plus shipping, link)

Amazon: $8.38 (free shipping, link)

Propel Water is currently around 50% cheaper on Amazon than Walmart when factoring in shipping fees.

The price varies slightly by flavor.

Our Clean Water Flavoring Pick

Pique Daily Radiance is our top flavor enhancing packet that can be added to water.

This product comes in convenient stick packs that can be mixed into water, and is naturally flavored with nutritious, whole food ingredients like organic elderberry juice concentrate (which is clinically shown to support the immune system) and organic lemon juice concentrate.

Most importantly, Pique's flavor enhancer is entirely free of citric acid, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and flavoring additives. There are no ingredients in this formulation that we consider to be unhealthy.

Interested consumers can check out Pique Daily Radiance at this link to the product page on the brand's official website.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Propel Water is a healthier option than Gatorade and other sugar-laden sports drinks in our opinion, because it’s zero-calorie and contains zero added sugars.

We don’t consider Propel Water to be healthy overall, because it contains citric acid, preservatives, an artificial sweetener and flavoring additives.

That being said, nearly everything approved for consumption in the US is fine in moderation, and we do not consider Propel Water likely to cause side effects.

Most of the online customer reviews that we came across while researching this article had favorable comments about the flavor of this drink, and Amazon currently has the best prices by far when factoring in shipping fees.