What does it mean that Gatorade is a 6% carbohydrate beverage? How is carbohydrate percentage calculated?
Six percent is the concentration, and means six grams of carbohydrate per 100 mL of fluid (metric units). The label will list 14 g per eight ounce serving as the equivalent. Years of laboratory research has shown that a 6% carbohydrate solution provides an appealing taste profile when exercising, is rapidly emptied from the stomach and absorbed by the intestine, and delivers performance-enhancing energy to active muscles. Sports drinks with lower or higher concentrations than 6% carbohydrate are unlikely to deliver on all these key attributes.
When checking carbohydrate percentages, don’t be misled by the percent of carbohydrate listed on the Nutrition Facts panel. That is a statement the portion of carbohydrate contributed to a reference person’s total daily diet, not of the concentration of carbohydrate in the beverage.
You can calculate the carbohydrate percentage of any beverage simply by knowing the total carbohydrate content (identified on the Nutrition Facts panel of the label) and the serving size in milliliters (also listed on the label). Gatorade contains 14 grams of carbohydrate in every 240 ml (8-oz) serving. So, 14/240 x 100 = 5.8% carbohydrate (we round up to 6% just to make things easy to remember.)
What is the osmolality of Gatorade?
In scientific terms, osmolality is a measure of the number of particles in a solution and can affect absorption properties. For example, water has a very low osmolality (close to zero) where cranberry juice cocktail has a very high osmolality because there is a lot of sugar molecules dissolved in it. The osmolality of Gatorade is slightly higher than that of our blood. That and the types of carbohydrate and electrolytes help assure rapid absorption. If beverage osmolality becomes too high (e.g. soft drinks and fruit juices), the rate of fluid absorption is slowed and can promote stomach upset during exercise.
Is there any scientific basis for the way Gatorade tastes?
Yes, Gatorade is formulated to taste best during physical activity because it contains electrolytes and the right flavor profile to help drive the thirst mechanism. The right flavor profile is achieved by creating flavors that are light and not overpowering so that they can be consumed in large quantities with minimum sensory overload during physical activity. Gatorade also has carefully avoided the use of artificial preservatives that can cause a throat burning sensation during exercise.
What are the electrolytes in Gatorade?
In Gatorade, the key electrolytes are the minerals sodium, potassium and chloride. When athletes sweat, they lose electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride that are essential to hydration and muscle function. Unlike water and other beverages that are not scientifically formulated, Gatorade is lab-tested to ensure it helps replenish the electrolytes lost in sweat and stimulates thirst so athletes will ingest an adequate amount of fluid and electrolytes to stay better well-hydrated compared to when using beverages without electrolytes, particularly sodium.¹²³
- 1. Maughan RJ. Fluid and electrolyte loss and replacement in exercise. J Sports Sci 9:117-142, 1991.
- 2. Passe D, et al. Impact of beverage acceptability on fluid intake during exercise. Appetite 35:219-229, 2000. (Full disclosure: GSSI study)
- 3. Wilk B and O Bar-Or. Effect of drink flavor and NaCl on voluntary drinking and hydration in boys exercising in the heat. J Appl Physiol 80:1112–1117, 1996. (Full disclosure: GSSI funded study)
What is brominated vegetable oil (BVO)? What is its purpose? Does it add fat calories to the product?
BVO is used in the production of some Gatorade flavorings to keep flavor oils evenly distributed in the water-based sports drink. It is used in very low levels and does not contribute any fat calories.
Why do you use artificial color? Can you make Gatorade without artificial colors?
The colors of Gatorade not only look good but also help in flavor perception and enable you to tell different flavors apart. All colors and ingredients in Gatorade qualify for human consumption according to the requirements of the FDA, added at the lowest possible level to achieve the desired color.
Does Gatorade contain caffeine? Why not?
Currently, caffeine has no place in Gatorade products. There is no convincing scientific data that shows caffeine can consistently and safely enhance the performance of athletes in a wide variety of athletic situations. Caffeine is a stimulant and many sports health professionals have concerns about athletes over-consuming caffeine.
What is sucralose? Is it sucrose?
Sucrose is a type of sugar. Sucralose is a no-calorie artificial sweetener. Like many no- and low-calorie sweeteners, sucralose contains a very small amount of common food ingredients, e.g., dextrose and/or maltodextrin, for volume. Because the amount of these ingredients is so small, it still has an insignificant calorie value per serving and meets FDA's standards for "no calorie" sweeteners.
The safety of sucralose is well documented in more than 100 scientific studies conducted over a 20-year period. In addition, sucralose has been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as by international health authorities such as the World Health Organization, and found to be safe for use by all consumers.
Why doesn’t Gatorade contain fruit juice?
Fruit juice contains fructose in concentrations that slow gastric emptying and may result in intestinal upset when athletes drink it during exercise. Fruit juice also varies considerably in composition from crop to crop. It becomes a challenging source of carbohydrate and other ingredients for product stability.
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