Does Gatorade have genuine benefits or is it false advertising?

Gatorade may seem like a wise choice for a healthy drink, but technically it contains extra ingredients that an average person does not need, though athletes can use. (Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

We know consuming the right kind of food and exercising are both important in order to live a healthy lifestyle, but drinking the right fluids before, during and after a workout is crucial to this balance as well.

While most turn to water, Gatorade has long since been considered an adequate alternative by many.

According to Richard Rosenkranz, associate professor in human nutrition, Gatorade’s marketing has been effective at making the drink profitable as the go-to drink for athletes. As of 2013, Gatorade is the leader in the sports drink market with 75 percent of the market share according to Trefis, a stock trading company. The drink claims to boost energy and replenish electrolytes, but there is an uncertainty about turning to Gatorade during or after workouts.

Gatorade was invented in 1965 at the University of Florida for its football team with the aim to decrease cases of dehydration caused by long periods of practice under the sun.

Rosenkranz said there was a wealth of scientific evidence that showed Gatorade was effective in delaying fatigue, enhancing performance and facilitating hydration. And with plenty of flavors to choose from, it proved to be a popular choice of hydration for college students and athletes alike.

“Most people drinking Gatorade seem to be consuming it for taste, to quench thirst, to emulate sport stars, to conform to social norms within an athletic context, for ‘insurance’ reasons around performance, or for unrealistic expectations about benefits,” Rosenkranz said.

In addition to hydrating and boosting your energy, Gatorade also claims to boost electrolytes.

“For the average person working out indoors in the air conditioning, you should not be drinking Gatorade,” Nora Hubler, a 2013 K-State alum in dietetics, said. “But if you’re outside in the heat for over an hour, then Gatorade would be good to drink to improve your sodium potassium levels, which are electrolytes.”

Katelyn Munsinger, K-State graduate student in dietetics, agreed with Hubler and said for the average person exercising, they should stick with water to avoid consuming the extra calories from sugar that a person exercising indoors does not need.

Many people drink Gatorade when they don’t really need the extra calories or nutrients and health wise, some of the products have quite a bit of sugar in them,” Munsinger said.

According to Rosenkranz, Gatorade does improve electrolyte levels and boost energy, thus improving athletic performance. Therefore, Gatorade might be a great option for athletes working in strenuous conditions like the running up and down the football field daily. However, for the rest of us who are content with the indoor treadmills and elliptical, it’s probably best to stick with a bottle of water to lead a healthy lifestyle.