Gatorade and Powerade are synonymous with sporting events. Both drinks - aptly part of the category known as Sports Drinks - were developed with the athlete in mind.
Gatorade was literally invented for use by the Florida Gators football team many decades ago. Powerade entered the scene as a competitor to the Gatorade brand and the battle has grown in intensity ever since.
The rivalry between Gatorade and Powerade goes beyond their similarities as sports drinks. Gatorade is owned by the PepsiCo beverage company and Powerade falls under the Coca-Cola family of products as part of Glaceau.
The similarities shared by both these drinks are apparent. Both come in an array of flavors and both companies have provided options of reduced or sugar-free drinks. We may be better served to look at the differences between Gatorade and Powerade.
There are three main areas where these two products differ. The contents of sodium, sugar, and the type of sugar each company uses to sweeten its original sports beverage.
The Sodium Content
Better or Worse
It seems bizarre to consider sodium a beneficial ingredient. This belief comes from the myriad warnings to those who suffer from high blood pressure.
When considering sports drinks from the perspective of their intent - helping athletes recover from exercise - sodium is not a bad thing. Why?
Sodium is lost during perspiration. People lose between 900 and 1400 mg of sodium per liter of sweat. Sodium is vital to the blood maintaining the proper balance of water it needs to fulfill its many functions in the body.
Thus, a sports drink that replenishes the sodium lost during a sweaty workout would come out ahead on a comparison. Gatorade doubles the amount of sodium replaced per liter.
The Sugar Content
Better or Worse
6g per 100mL (6%)
8g per 100mL (8%)
Sugar is another ingredient that gets a lot of negative press. It is true that excessive sugar consumption on a regular basis can be detrimental to your long term health.
The sugar contained in servings of Gatorade and Powerade, when consumed during or immediately after a vigorous workout, can help the body absorb appropriate amounts of sugar and water into the blood.
What is this magical amount of sugar that leads to the leveling of sugar in the body during exercise? Experts say between 4% and 8% is the optimum amount for a sports drink. [As an aside: some “experts” have argued that the range is 5% to 7% but those have all worked for Gatorade or been linked to the brand in some way]
Both Gatorade and Powerade fall onto the spectrum of appropriate, beneficial sugar content.
NOTE: Drinking Gatorade or Powerade consistently or outside of an exercise setting mitigates the inherent value of the sugar. A body not exercising does not need to consume extra sugar for proper blood function.
The Sugar Used
Type of Sugar
Better or Worse
Glucose & Fructose
Some experts argue that a glucose polymer is more readily absorbed than simpler forms of sugar. There are other opinions that suggest that a sports drink with more than one sugar in its ingredients list is better than one with a single sugar.
In any case, there is little evidence that suggests a polymer or multiple forms of sugar induce better absorption. While Powerade does offer multiple sugars in its ingredient list, there is no scientific reason to say it is better than Gatorade.