Hydration is the key to maintaining optimal health. Without proper hydration, the body cannot function properly. Although individual needs may vary depending on climate and activity level, when it comes to choosing the proper elixir, many want to know the differences between water and Gatorade. Many athletes are seen drinking Gatorade at sports events; however, water is typically recommended as the healthiest liquid for hydration. Understanding the difference between the two can help you make an informed decision.
Water and the Body
Water quenches thirst and supports rehydration. It is also free of calories and sugars that can potentially lead to weight gain. The body is composed of 70 percent water; therefore, it is essential to maintaining the proper functioning of internal mechanisms. It is also vital for proper brain function, as the brain is composed of 85 percent water. Water is responsible for transporting nutrients throughout the body, as well as flushing toxins and waste out by aiding digestion. It serves as a cushion between internal organs, regulates body temperature, and also keeps you looking young and feeling healthy.
Gatorade and the Body
Gatorade is a sports drink that quenches thirst and replaces fluids lost through perspiration. Unlike regular water, Gatorade contains electrolytes and other compounds that support hydration and performance during physical activity. Electrolytes such as sodium and potassium present in Gatorade support fluid retention, making it less likely to become dehydrated. Gatorade also contains carbohydrates, which provide energy and assist the small intestine in absorbing fluids seven times faster than water. Glucose, present in Gatorade, also helps with absorption so fluids don’t sit in your stomach while you are trying to perform.
To maintain proper hydration, consume eight glasses of water per day. This amount may increase depending on your activity level and your exposure to heat. Although both drinks serve as thirst quenchers, Gatorade does not count toward your suggested water consumption for the day, as it does not serve to flush toxins from the body like water. There is no recommended amount for Gatorade. Due to the calories and sugars present, consume Gatorade in moderation.
When to Consume
Water is best consumed before and after physical activity to prevent dehydration and assist in rehydration. Always drink water if your urine appears dark in color or has an odor, as these are signs of dehydration. Water is also cheaper than Gatorade, so it is best consumed if you are on a tight budget. However, the properties of Gatorade make it a beneficial choice if you are engaged in long-term strenuous physical activity due to added electrolytes, which are not present in regular water. Consuming Gatorade in conjunction with water can help your body maintain proper hydration in hot environments, or if you are engaging in rigorous exercise over long spans of time.
References and ResourcesNutri Science; Hydrate for Health; 2005
Difference Between; Difference Between Water and Gatorade; 2011
Wakefield Community School; Water or Gatorade?; Kelsey Rewinkel; November 2006
Club Physio Plus; Gatorade vs. Water; Russell Gunner; 2009