The good, the bad and the dirty of Gatorade

in Opinion by

A drink created when athletes started to get ill after tournaments, Gatorade quickly became one of the most popular beverages associated with sports drinks. It was created to help athletes by acting as a replacement for body fluids lost during physical exertion. Players from the University of Florida football team tested the first version of Gatorade during practices and games in 1965 to verify that they actually helped athletes-they were deemed successful. As a sports drink, Gatorade provides many of the supplements needed in someone’s body when they exercise.

Gatorade contains high levels of electrolytes (which help maintain the body’s ionic balance), sodium (which replaces the sodium lost in perspiration) and carbohydrates (which help the body refuel and rehydrate). However, as great as the drink sounds, it was created for athletes who endure excessive training and use a lot of energy during daily practices, not for students sitting at their desks and bored with the plain taste of water. This article is not directed at those who train daily under the sun and who are actually lacking the substances Gatorade can provide, but at those who choose Gatorade over a soda because it may seem healthier or because it’s suddenly hot outside.

I’m not implying one should completely restrict themselves from Gatorade or similar substitutes, but directing, rather, that the health benefits and warnings should be acknowledged. According to a Berkley study, most people consuming sports drinks like Gatorade are not within the marketed audience (athletes), causing their daily intake of this beverage to be worse for their health rather than beneficial. Gatorade not only has excessive amounts of sugar, but, when the body is not in action, these sugars have the same effect as a regular soda. To put this into perspective, a 20-ounce serving of Gatorade thirst quencher contains 36 grams of sugar, while a can of Coca Cola contains 39 grams. Berkeley researchers say the sugar in sports drinks may contribute to the child obesity epidemic by increasing caloric intake. Even though Gatorade does not have the same amount of caffeine as a can of Coke, it does have about the same amount of sugar, increasing chances of premature tooth decay. For people who are not constantly moving or who take part in a physically active sport, consuming this level of sodium and sugar is not necessary or recommended. Not only would the extra calories promote weight gain over time, but the high levels of sodium could increase the risk of high blood pressure.

While Gatorade can help you stay hydrated during hot days and after training sessions, it is best to only drink it when needed. For people who aren’t involved in intense exercising for at least one hour, five days per week, water is the best bet for hydration.

Maia Fernandez Baigun is a junior at American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. Even though this is only her second year on staff, Maia loves working on the newspaper staff. She is also Vice President of Save the Memories. Maia participates in service projects and loves to discover new music and trendy restaurants. She is an avid Billie Eilish fan and, in her free time, enjoys writing and taking pictures of nature. For her, a perfect day consists of sleeping in, avocado toast, and binge-watching Netflix originals.

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