Are you wondering if you should drink Gatorade vs vitaminwater at your next athletic event or practice?
We understand the confusion when trying to determine the better choice and finding what suits your unique nutritional needs.
This comprehensive article will explain the science behind each of these hydration options, the ingredients, and which beverage is best for you depending on your fitness or activity level.
Let’s dive into the details of these popular drinks!
Table of Contents
Gatorade was invented in 1965 by a group of researchers at the University of Florida in an attempt to keep the football team playing well in the heat! From researchers, determined to help optimize athletes’ performance and quench their thirst, the Gatorade was born.
Gator-ade, yes, Gator, The University of Florida Mascot!
If you are an athlete, we are sure you have heard of or even tried today’s popular sports drink packed with carbohydrates and electrolytes. Gatorade was invented to help athletes thrive in practice sessions and during intense physical activity.
Vitaminwater is a relative newcomer to the shelves and is owned by Coca-Cola! It was created by health nut investor J. Darius Bikoff who was also the founder of smartwater.
Unlike Gatorade, made for athletes, vitaminwater was made and marketed as a healthy drink for everyone.
Most Vitaminwater flavors have very little potassium and sodium but do contain vitamins that Gatorade does not have like b-vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
The main difference between Gatorade vs vitaminwater
Gatorade was specifically invented to help athletes refuel electrolytes lost from sweat to prevent cramping and dehydration. The added carbohydrate boost helps athletes increase their energy levels, better absorb carbohydrates, and push hard during physical activity!
Vitaminwater was invented for everyone! It was invented to be the best choice for boosting vitamins c, b vitamins (like folic acid), and serve as hydration drinks. But is it really a healthy and energy-boosting drink? Keep reading to learn more.
At a glance
Both Gatorade and Vitaminwater can be found at most gas stations and supermarkets. They are both popular choices. So what is a good choice for you?
At a glance, vitaminwater may seem like they better option because it contains fewer carbohydrates; however, athletes need more carbohydrates than the average person because they are using more energy!
Nutrition comparisons of Gatorade vs vitaminwater
Let’s take a closer look.
lemon-lime thirst quencher (20 oz)
power-C dragon fruit (20 oz)
Glacier Freeze Thirst Quencher (20 oz)
forever you coconut lime (20 oz)
|Carbohydrates||36 g||27 g||1 g||0 g|
|Sugar||34 g||27 g||0 g||0 g|
|Protein||0 g||0 g||0 g||0 g|
|Fat||0 g||0 g||0 g||0 g|
|Sodium||270 mg||0 mg||270 mg||0 g|
|Potassium||80 mg||none||75 mg||none|
|Vitamin A||none||none||none||25% DV|
|Vitamin C||none||200% DV||none||100% DV|
|Vitamin E||none||none||none||30% DV|
|Vitamin B6||none||100% DV||none||100% DV|
|Vitamin B12||none||100% DV||none||100% DV|
|Sweetener Used||sugar & dextrose||cystaline fructose & can sugar||sucralose||monk fruit & stevia|
Based on the nutrition information above, we can confidently say that regular Gatorade is a better beverage for athletes.
The form of sugar in Gatorade helps enhance water and electrolyte absorption. The added sugar speeds up rehydration and helps to prevent dehydration (1). The Gatorade Zero does have more potassium and sodium than vitaminwater and vitaminwater Zero but contains no carbohydrates which athletes need during rigours physical activity!
Carbohydrates in Gatorade vs Vitaminwater
Carbohydrates are vital for athletes during exercise >60 minutes. Research shows that performance does improve with the ingestion of carbohydrates (2).
But what kind should athletes consume?
Vitamin water contains crystalline fructose and cane sugar (sucrose). Crystalline fructose has a higher percentage of fructose than high-fructose corn syrup!
Gatorade contains sugar (sucrose) and dextrose (glucose).
Dextrose is the same as glucose! It is simple sugar from corn or wheat. Dextrose is a simple sugar that gives athletes quick energy.
It is recommended that athletes consume sports drinks with carbohydrates from a mix of both glucose and sucrose like Gatorade (3).
Low-calorie sweeteners in Gatorade Zero and vitaminwater zero
Vitaminwater now sells vitaminwater zero made with monk fruit and stevia.
Monkfruit and stevia are natural sugars that contain little to no calories; however, may taste overly sweet or leave you with a strange aftertaste.
Gatorade used sucralose also known to users as Splenda.
While artificial sugars appear to be safe in moderate amounts there has been some research that over-dependence on highly sweet artificial sweeteners over time could potentially increase sugar cravings (4)
Which is better for electrolytes?
Gatorade is hands down better for replacing electrolytes which are especially important during intense exercise. Electrolytes help with fluid balance and help to keep you hydrated.
Vitaminwater varies in nutrition depending on the type; however, most contain little to no sodium or potassium.
Therefore, we do not recommend using vitamin water as a sports drink to replenish electrolytes lost from sweat during or after exercise.
Use our sweat rate calculator to help determine how much fluid and sodium you need during exercise!
Does Gatorade have more vitamins than vitaminwater?
Vitaminwater has more vitamins than Gatorade. Depending on the flavor Vitaminwater labels report providing up to 200% of the daily value of water-soluble vitamins such as ascorbic acid (vitamin-c) and vitamin B.
Most people do consume enough of these vitamins in their diet. The rest you urinate out. There are no benefits to excessive intakes of water-soluble vitamins.
You can easily consume vitamins through whole foods rather than a beverage with more added sugars than the daily recommended amount for women in an entire day (5).
Gatorade vs vitaminwater: a variety of flavors
Vitaminwater comes in 6 flavors and vitaminwater zero comes in 8 flavors.
Gatorade has much more variety with different flavors, electrolyte drinks, powders, and more.
These sports drinks come in over 30 flavors and are found at many sports competitions.
Goodbye plastic bottles
With an increased focus on conscious consumerism, you can find people bringing their water bottles and skipping the plastic!
Unlike vitaminwater, Gatorade has many different ways to consume the product. Including in powder and tablet form that does not generate as much plastic waste as a bottle of vitamin water!
Is vitaminwater the healthiest drink?
Because vitaminwater contains added vitamins some people may believe this is a “healthy drink.” Continue reading to learn why that is not the case.
Vitaminwater is not the healthiest drink. It contains large amounts of sugar with minimal amounts of electrolytes for rehydration.
Vitaminwater from time to time will not harm your health but by no means is this a healthy drink or beverage you should try and consume daily!
Reverse osmosis water
What is the deal with vitaminwater coming from reverse osmosis water?
Simply put, that means that the water is extra-filtered, this does not make it healthier than standard plain water.
Is vitaminwater a good energy drink?
Vitaminwater could be called an energy drink because of its carbohydrate content.
But, it is best to get your energy through whole food sources that can also provide fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants in their natural form!
Vitaminwater provides minimal nutritional value and minimal caffeine to be considered an energy-boosting drink.
Typical marketed “energy drinks” are those with higher caffeine levels. Gatorade has no caffeine.
Vitaminwater has one caffeinated flavor called Energy in tropical citrus flavor. It has 50mg of caffeine for the whole bottle. This is 50% less than the caffeine content of a standard cup of coffee.
Should you drink Gatorade or vitaminwater?
We would not encourage an inactive individual to consume Gatorade or vitaminwater frequently due to the high added sugar content as well as added sodium content in Gatorade.
For those not losing salt via sweat, it is recommended to consume <2300 mg per day.
Excessive sodium intake can contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure) (6).
Are Gatorade Zero and vitaminwater zero healthier?
For non-athletes watching how much sugar they are consuming the “non-sugar” zero drinks can be a good option.
However, when exercising, especially strenuous exercise, athletes require more grams of carbohydrates to optimize performance and aid in muscle and tissue repair than the 0 g of carbohydrates the zero options provide.
Zero-sugar options are a healthy alternative to juice or regular soda for those mindful of sugar intake and avoiding sugary drinks. Because of the high amount of sodium, we cannot recommend Gatorade Zero as a healthy alternative for everyday use.
The best healthy real hydration for those with a health condition is water!
Vitaminwater zero sugar options may be better for those looking for a change from plain water. Those with kidney disease should be cautious of excessive vitamin C consumption from vitaminwater.
Taste and preference
Does this mean you should never drink vitmainwater again? No!
We do not believe any food should be off-limits. After all, the restriction is what creates cravings and what can lead to binge eating (7).
We wanted to help break down the marketing claims and inform you that Vitaminwater is not the “health” beverage it is touted to be.
An orange would be more energizing, nutrient-dense, and nutritious than the power-c dragon fruit Vitaminwater.
However, if you are craving the taste of vitamin water, enjoy it guilt-free in between meetings or on the go when you crave the flavor! But, Vitaminwater is NOT a replacement for a sports drink such as Gatorade.
Who is the winner of the Gatorade vs vitaminwater showdown?
For the average person, vitamin water can be an acceptable beverage choice. For an athlete, Gatorade is the best option.
The electrolyte and carbohydrate content of Gatorade highlights why you see it at athletic events instead of vitaminwater.
Athletes need carbohydrates and electrolytes to optimize athletic performance!
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Katie Schimmelpfenning RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, USA Swim Coach, and former Division 1 swimmer. She helps competitive swimmers fuel and train to optimize performance, recover faster, and prevent injury! She is passionate about spreading evidence-based nutrtion tips to help swimmers across the globe.